'It is never too late to bestow honour and recognition'

Source: “Veluws Dagblad” newspaper

On Tuesday afternoon 10th September 2002 and during an impressive and well-attended ceremony in the Van Reenenpark, the Indies memorial was dedicated.  The names of six citizens of Nijkerk, who fell in the period 1940-45¹, in what was then known as the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea, were engraved in the granite of the monument. “It is never too late to bestow honour and recognition” according to Mr. F. Dijkstra, President of the Society of Indies Military personnel, “De Valouwe”.

The ceremony which lasted just short of the hour was led by the wife of the Mayor, Mrs Vries, supported by the music of the brass quartet of the music society of Nijkerkerveen called “Concordia” and the UVV Choir called “Autumn Sounds”.  Mrs. Steenstra was invited to recite a poem.  Mr.Dijkstra emphasised in his speech, how important it was that Nijkerk was following other cities to erect their own monument for these victims.  According to Dijkstra, there is a need for that, because the veterans are getting older, and they are therefore less able to attend the annual memorial ceremonies for their fallen comrades at the National Monument in Roermond.   “Now they can honour their comrades closer to home.  A visual and tangible spot in their own surroundings.” 
Dijkstra mentioned further that, at that time when the Dutch East Indies had just been liberated, the Fatherland sent more than 150,000 military personnel to maintain peace and quiet.  Of those, 1600 never returned.  According to Dijkstra the Dutch boys of that period, were motivated to go to the East.  “They had survived the 2nd World War and in some cases had been part of the resistance.  ‘‘We are free; they should also be free’ was the thought of the time.  However, they arrived in a country where the inhabitants were ready to take matters into their own hands.  In hindsight a development which was part of a world-wide wave of de-colonisation.” Dijkstra praised the application with which the military personnel acquitted themselves of the task asked of them by the Fatherland.  “Not all of them came home, as with these six citizens of Nijkerk who never returned home.”  Mayor Vries also emphasised the importance of the erection of this monument.  A memorial, which according to Vries, is not only intended to give those who died their deserved place in history, but to give recognition to the veterans.  “The soldiers did their duty, but it was not always easy to deal with their emotions after they came home.  The same holds true for the new veterans, who witness the various peace missions in the world. Recognition, counselling and after-care is very important for them.”

Mayor Vries, together with Mr. W. Kuyt, the longest serving East Indies veteran in Nijkerk, unveiled the Memorial.  Mr. Kuyt received many decorations for his resistance work during the war, amongst which The Kings Medal of Freedom from King George VI of Great Britain and the Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States.  This was followed by the playing of the Last Post and the observation of two minutes silence.  Members of the Town Council, next of kin and members of other (Veteran) organisations laid wreaths, after which all present were invited to file past the monument upon which the names - Van den Akker, Callenbach, Kok, Van de Ham, Vliek, and Jongeneel found their definitive place in the history of Nijkerk.
The children of the Oranje Nassau School, who will maintain the monument in future, handed all present a white rose to be placed at the monument.

(The Callenbach mentioned here is B. H.J. Callenbach (Ben) (5.7.4).  There was an article about him in the Prophet, the Magazine of the Callenbach Foundation, No 55/56 of Autumn 1998.)

 ¹ Translator’s note: This should read “1945-48”. These men went to the Indies after WW II.