Speech  of the acting Kingdom Representative  on Memorial Day, 4 May 2023, 8:00 p.m.

Speech  of the acting Kingdom Representative  on Memorial Day, 4 May 2023, 8:00 p.m:

acting Kingdom Representative Jan Helmond.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have come together today to commemorate the victims of the Second World War and other conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

With the theme for this year, ‘Living with war’, the National Committee for the 4th and 5th of May aims to highlight the impact of war on individuals, families and society. In the coming period, the committee will primarily focus on the theme of intergenerational transmission: how do memories develop from the first generation to later generations? And what does this mean for how we think about freedom and oppression?

This theme directly relates to the slavery past. In June and July, the Slavery Past Memorial Year will begin with major events across the Kingdom. We will contemplate the fact that the pain and memories of slavery are passed on from generation to generation and are clearly felt in our society today. The colonial past and various past wars are legacies that are passed on to each generation through time. Even the youngest generation who have grown up in freedom live with the painful memories of war and oppression suffered by their ancestors and are also affected by those memories today.

The centuries of oppression and exploitation still have an impact here and now, in discriminatory patterns of exclusion and racist stereotypes, in social inequality. In the speech he gave on the 19th of  December 2022, our Prime Minister said that no one living today bears personal responsibility for slavery, but that we cannot disregard the effects of that past in our own time. That is not an excuse to do nothing; we must move forward and make progress together.

With this in mind, we must expand our knowledge and strengthen the bonds between us while allowing space for difference and with sympathy for each other’s past. We must recognize that diversity is not an obstacle but something to be cherished. Strengthening the bonds between us and putting people first are essential, as this is the only way to find solutions and make progress together. It all starts with having respect for one another. How we learn to face up to our past can have a crucial impact on our future, a future where we have learned from the past and where we can all live together in peace and harmony. A future where people are not judged by their origin, color, religion, orientation or because they have a different opinion, but where everyone is respected.

We have come together here to commemorate all the people who gave their lives in wars and conflict situations. Let us understand that we must continue to work together every day to achieve peace and freedom for everyone because we are all equal. All the people who we commemorate today have a different story, but the loss of freedom is what now brings us together.

Let us be there for one another and learn that ‘living with war’ has a major impact that continues to be felt from generation to generation. Let us commemorate together in mutual solidarity, each with their own memories and thoughts.

Jan Helmond


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