Prime minister and Crown Prince visit PACE stand

Saturday, 27th of June, the Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkende and his Royal Highness Prince Willem Alexander visited the information stand manned by Papua Cultural Heritage Foundation (PACE) on occasion of Veterans Day in The Hague. Staff member Koen de Jager, veteran of the Dutch Royal Navy himself, took the opportunity to explain in detail about the Foundation’s work to both visitors.

Veterans Day is a yearly tribute to the approximaly 140.000 Dutch military veterans. This year’s event on the Malieveld in The Hague started at 9:30 AM and lasted until 5:30 PM.

The first lustrum of Veterans Day was extensive andPrins Willem-Alexander op bezoek bij PACE-stand colourful. About 70.000 people visited the various events and activities throughout The Hague’s inner city. On the Malieveld at a specially constructed beach a restored landing craft, the LIMA 21, was shown. This type of craft was similar to the ones used in New Guinea by the Royal Marines between 1950 and 1962. The volunteers who restored the landing craft to its original state told about their work.

Some ten ‘veterans with a mission’, Koen de Jager among them, also presented the various causes they now work for. Koen de Jager, who served in New Guinea in the early 1960s, now works as a volunteer for Papua Heritage Foundation (PACE). Through PACE’s work on Papua heritage and also by lobbying for the Papuan population of Papua province, Indonesia, he makes his own contribution to the people he got to know and appreciate during his time in the military, befriending Papuan refugees in the Netherlands, and during subsequent visits to Papua.

All six military museums and the Netherlands Institute for Military History were represented at the event. These information stands provided visitors with an (inter)active representation of the history of the Dutch armed forces. The museums also provided historical data on the veterans and their activities in the past.

Tribute

Veterans DayKoen en zijn vrouw Hetty in PACE-stand in the Netherlands is the official occasion to pay tribute to the contributions Dutch soldiers made to peace both in the Netherlands and abroad. The day was first held in 2005 on an initiative by the Defence Department. Initially, June 29th was specifically chosen as a tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard, who was born on 29 July 1911 and died on 1 December 2004. An informal veterans parade was always inspected by the prince on the occasion of remembering the end of World War II in the Netherlands on May 5th each year. From 2009 on Veterans Day will be held on the last Saturday in June.
Most of the men and women present served at some time or other in the Dutch Army, either in World War II or afterwards in the Netherland Indies, Korea, or former Netherlands New Guinea. They are joined by a quickly growing generation of ‘young’ veterans who served on peace missions in the Lebanon, Cambodia, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Military Parade

Starting at the Malieveld around noon some 3.000 older and younger veterans, along with 1.000 soldiers from army, navy and air force, 200 soldiers presently serving abroad on peace missions, modern and historical military equipment, and 850 (military) music band members, took part in a large military parade. The parade was inspected by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Willem Alexander, grandson of Prince Bernard. Thousands of people watched the parade along the route through the town centre.

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