Our day, and indeed the entire trip, had already been filled with unbelievable opportunities and experiences. And yet... there was still just one last big surprise we had in store for our farewell dinner to Holland before the group went their seperate ways (Some of us were going home, while others would be travelling on to Germany & Poland).
You'll never guess who came to see us off.
First, Glenn had some important words to share with us: In honour of the four veterans who joined us, and the special part they had played in our tour - as well as in our lives - Glenn gave us all a moving toast.
^^^ Glenn gives a toast to the Canadian Veterans who were able to accompany our journey overseas.
____________________________________________________________ Glenn's Farewell Speech, including the final reveal of our last surprise
Glenn goes through some highlights with us, has some special thank you's to share with the group, and we all share some laughs.
Then, if you forward to minute 5:34 in the video - you will see Glenn FINALLY revealing our last big surprise - certainly something for our group no one saw coming.
^^^ Glenn's farewell speech
___________________________________________________________________________ 005 Canadian Legion & our Canadian Ambassador, the Honorable James Lambert
Along with the Defence Attaché, Mr Colonel Michael Hogan, Canadian Legion 005 Treasurer, Martin Van dePoel, as well as the head of the RCMP delegation here in the Netherlands, Ms. Carol Poulin, the Canadian ambassador, hon. James Lambert, and 005 Canadian Legion President, Gerard Hendricks stop by our dinner to say farewell to our Canadians. They came bearing gifts, giving each of our veterans with a medal signifying their 70 years since the liberation. Watch as each of our boys recieve their honorary medal, with a few words from the ambassador and the president themselves:
___________________________________________________________________ I just can't help it! There was one last surprise!
I heard so many stories while we embarked on this tour - and if I had learned anything from them - it was that there were so many more Canadians who had been deeply and irreversably affected by the Second World War. Many close to me on this trip spoke of their husbands, their fathers, their uncles, & loved ones, there were those who at too young an age, had even witnessed the events themselves. There were also individuals present that took up their post after the war, continuing to dedicate their lives to serve our country and maintain our freedom.
What a journey for these individuals to embark on with us; what kind of journey would it have been if they had not been recognized for it?
And so, at the time of our impromptu ceremony, we had prepared to also award these individuals, in appreciation of their efforts to continue in the stead of their loved ones, sharing with us all the immense history they had left behind.
Take a look.
^^^ I could watch this video over and over again, it still is worthwhile to see everyone's surprised faces.
And with that, this leg of the journey would come to an end. We all had a great rest of the night, filled with tears and well wishes, plenty of photos, and then a jaunt to the bar next door all together for some farewell beers and whiskey. It was a really moving night - a perfect end to a perfect tour. It is hard to say goodbye to everyone I had the pleasure of travelling with, but my hope is that this last ceremony showed the entire group how much they were appreciated, how important their sacrifices had been for the welfare of generations to come.
At first, it was difficult for me to comprehend a tour without our Canadian Vets hand in hand, showing us their perspectives and insights. It's sad to see them say their final farewell, and I hope that Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Lambert are right - we anticipate seeing them all again in five years time. If that isn't the case however, if this is truly the last goodbye to our boys on tour, I will press on. I think the entire Battlefield Tours team, and indeed its community have cherished the insights and stories told from these tours. For all of us, it is imperative to remember them, and to bring the generations who come after them to these special places to really truly show why this unbreakable bond exists between our two beautiful countries.
^^^ George Skerkowski recieves his medal of honour
^^^ George, Bud, & Ray pose for pictures after the ceremony with the ambassador.
^^^Bud poses with Mr. Lambert
^^^ Frank recieving his medal of honour
^^^ Ray recieving his medal of honour
Some More Farewell Photos
^^^ Keean says goodbye & thank you to George
^^^ Marg gives our veteran George Skerkowski a high five at the end of the night
^^^ A big hug from the McLaren clan!! From right to left, Heather, Earl, Sam (Me!) & Keean - over the moon happy that to have this passionate, enthusiastic, and beautiful family to travel with. I count my lucky stars.
^^^ A part of the McLaren clan gives their tour organizer some love!!!
^^^ A picture with Gord & Sandy. So happy to have met them. To be brought together here because of a single poster hanging in the National War Museum in Ottawa, who would have guessed? Thank you for coming with us, and I'm looking forward to hear more of your incredible familial ties to this country!
^^^ A picture I'm particularly proud of with one of our Canadian Veterans, Ray Lewis. An honour and a priviledge to have met you, what an incredible person, with an incredible history - I will never forget the friendships I've made, particularly with someone as unbelievable as you.
^^^ Bud Weeks, with his daughter Sharon. These two have meant the world to me and to have met them in person even moreso incredible. Thank you thank you thank you, you are such a beautiful family.
I had a few words myself to share with everyone, and although I kept it short and sweet, it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.
You can start at 16:24 to see what I had to say.