WWII veterans skipped commemoration over Schiphol chaos
Twelve American veterans who helped liberate the Netherlands in World War II will not attend the commemorations around Operation Market Garden in Nijmegen next month. At their age, it is not safe for them to go through the chaos at Schiphol, the Best Defense Foundation, which helps them, said to newspaper AD.
According to the foundation, most of the veterans have never been back to the Netherlands since they helped liberate it in 1944 and wanted to visit the place where they fought for our country's freedom one more time. Some intended to go to the commemoration two years ago, but it got canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, the chaos at Schiphol is the culprit, the Dutch coordinator of the Best Defense Foundation said to the newspaper. “If everyone in this group had been 21 years old, we wouldn’t have had a problem. But the youngest is 96 years old. You don’t want to take any chances with these guys. We have to be confident that their suitcases will arrive. And you can’t have them queue for hours at Schiphol when they leave again or have their flights canceled.”
Schiphol announced on Tuesday that it would limit the number of departing passengers in September and October, cutting an average of 3,500 of the expected passengers per day. Staff shortages in security and baggage handling have caused almost constant problems at Schiphol since the May holidays. Travelers often have to queue for hours to get through security checks.
In previous years, the Koninklijke Marechaussee accompanied veterans through the airport when they arrived and left. But when the Best Defense Foundation contacted their contact person with the request for this year, they were told it would simply be impossible. The Marechaussee is flooded with similar requests this year. And due to the crowds, escorting travelers can lead to unrest among other waiting passengers.