Again and again, Ted Paisley heard the same thing; “thank you for my freedom.”
The Petrolia native was one of a handful of veterans who returned to Holland in early May for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the country. The 90-year old traveled with his son, Dave, and grandson Mike.
“We saw the Princess (of the Netherlands) and Prime Minister Harper,” says Dave. “But what dad likes is the people who walk up and say ‘are you one of our liberators and of course that starts a whole discussion.”
That discussion, Dave says, ends with a touch or a handshake and ‘Thank you for my freedom.”
Both Paisley and his son and grandson were touched by the outpouring of affection, especially at Appeldorn where thousands of residents lined the streets for a liberation parade. Paisley and his grandson road through the streets and shook hundreds of hands, so many he says that his hand hurt for three days afterwards.
There were bumps in the road. When the Paisley’s tour arrived late at the main celebration at Wagenigen, ended up missing the parade. By the time they arrived to the vehicle they were to ride in, Dave, says women and young children had already been seated and refused to give up their seats for the veterans.
Even so, Paisley says he’s pleased he went back one more time. “The parade at Appeldorn was huge and there was a great turn out,” he says. “The parade at Appeldorn more than made up for it,” agreed Dave.
The Paisleys have made several trips back to Holland to commemorate Ted’s service during the Second World War but this is likely his last, considering his age.
And Dave says even during the speeches there were hints that some people in the Netherlands question the huge celebrations. “All three mayors mentioned in their speeches this year that people say ’70 years – isn’t that enough? Why are we still doing this?’”
And he understands the sentiment. Until now, many of the people lining the parade route lived through the German occupation. For the current generation, he says, this is now history.
But Dave says the mayors were all firmly in favour of continuing the remembrance saying ‘you’re being a fool if you don’t look at the past to see the future.’”