National Remembrance Day commemoration on Amsterdam's Dam Square, 4 May 2016 (Photo: @Comite4en5mei/Twitter) - Source: National Remembrance Day commemoration on Amsterdam's Dam Square, 4 May 2016 (Photo: @Comite4en5mei/Twitter) at
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 07:50
Remembrance Day honored across the Netherlands
People all over the Netherlands observed two minutes of silence at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night to commemorate victims of the Second World War and other conflicts and wars that followed. Public transport came to a stand still and cars pulled over where they were to participate in the commemoration. More than 20 thousand people attended the commemoration on Dam square in Amsterdam, including King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The Royals lay the first wreath at the monument on the square. Wreaths were also laid by various war victims, representatives of first generation war victims, dignitaries and children. Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb gave the speech on Dam square. He believes that we can learn a lot from stories of World War II. "The stories teach us that evil begins with prejudice and humiliations: Jews had to wear a star, their children could not go to their own school. Roma and Sinti, gays, mentally disabled: they did no harm, but there was no place for them in Nazi Germany. A country fell prey to gut instincts, misguided emotions that disrupt society. Gut instincts that can pave the way to hatred, violence and eventually even to murder. Even still." the mayor said, according to Het Parool. According to Aboutaleb, we need to listen to the stories of survivors, witnesses and relatives. "We owe it to them. They ask us to cherish the stories and tell them. They are asking us to continue using our hearts and minds and consult our conscience constantly, so that the burden of the shoulders of our children will be a bit lighter. That's why we are together today. That's why we remember." Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke at the National Field of Honor Loenen, the final resting place of nearly 4 thousand Dutch war victims. According to Rutte, commemoration is important to honor the dead and keep history alive. Both soldiers and civilians are buried there and we must remember "their sacrifices, their struggles, their fate", he said. According to him, each name on every headstone has a story that "deserves to be told", NOS reports. It is good to reflect on what is really important. "The freedom to be who you are and to make your own choices. A life in peace, without fear of persecution." Rutte also observed Remembrance Day with other ministers and officials in the Nieuwspoort press center in The Hague and attended a commemoration in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam before the official ceremony on Dam square. In The Hauge Khadija Arib, president of the lower house of Dutch parliament, spoke about freedom of speech and how it is being increasingly threatened. She referred to the terrorist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris last year and to Turkey, where freedom of speech and press "continues to be compromised". She called the arrest of Turkish-Dutch journalist Ebru Umar "a painful illustration" of this.