Remembering people we don’t know

I asked my seven-year-old daughter to turn off her tablet. ‘Why do we have to be quiet?’ she asked. I told her it we were going to be silent for two minutes to remember the people who died in the war.

‘But I don’t know those people…’ she said, a little bit in protest.

Still, she turned off her tablet. ‘Can I make my homework while we are quiet?’

‘Yes, sure. Go ahead.’

While she diligently started doing her math assignment, I tuned in to the live broadcast of the national ceremony in Amsterdam with our king and queen. In The Netherlands May the Fourth is not just Star Wars Day but first and foremost our national Remembrance Day, on which we commemorate victims of the Second World War. It was almost eight o’ clock, so the whole country was about to be silent.

We were quiet for two minutes.

The ceremony continued, and we watched survivors of the war and their children and grandchildren lay wreaths at the National Monument. We heard them tell their stories and stories of those who did not survive.

I thought about my daughter’s question. She was right. I also don’t know the people who died in the Second World War. But in a different way, I do know them — through their stories.

So as long as we keep passing on the stories of the victims of the war, we can keep the memory alive.

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