The Agassiz Legion is planning to paint the town red next year.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dutch liberation of Holland in 2020, legions across B.C. and the Yukon are selling boxes of red tulips “to remember the hardships faced by Canadians overseas and celebrate the liberation of the Dutch people from Nazi occupation.
“I understand that the Dutch children look after all the Canadian graves in Holland,” said Linda Pickell, past-president of the Agassiz Legion. “So they’re looking after our fallen. So it’s a thank you from both sides.
“It’s something that we need to do.”
Pickell has personal connections to the Dutch liberation, as her husband is a reservist for the Royal Westminster Regiment and her son is a member of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse — both of which were overseas to liberate Holland in the Second World War.
“We have so many Dutch people in this province … and the Dutch have never forgotten what the Canadian soldiers did for them,” she said.
The tulips aren’t the only way the Legion is hoping to honour the 75th anniversary of the liberation.
Sometime in May, the Legion will be hosting a gathering to honour the Dutch families and Canadian soldiers. A Legion member who was a child in Holland during the occupation will speak at the event, and Pickell is hoping to bring the Colonel of the Royal Westminster Regiment to speak about the soldiers’ experience.
That night — Pickell isn’t sure which night the event will be yet — there will also be a candlelit ceremony at the Cenotaph with a choir and pipers.
In addition to the gathering, the Legion will be bringing candles to the local councils, as well as any Dutch community members who were alive during the occupation.
The organization is also planning to approach Kent and Harrison councils to ask if they will mark May 2, 2020 as the celebration of the liberation of Holland.
“The Legion isn’t a bunch of old fogies,” Pickell said. “We’re more involved in the community. Our mandate is not only to look after veterans and their families, but look after our community.”
For 2020, that means honouring Agassiz’s strong Dutch community as well as the Canadian soldiers who helped them long ago.
Tulips are available for pre-sale at the Legion now, and in the first week the tulips have been for sale, Pickell said they have already sold 35 boxes, the equivalent of 350 bulbs. Pre-sales for the bulbs will continue until Sept. 9, although boxes of bulbs will still be available at the Legion after the fact.
Boxes are $10 each, and can be purchased by emailing [email protected] or stopping by the Legion canteen. Boxes will be delivered in mid-September.