Video

Stephen Harper joins Canadian WW2 veterans to mark liberation of Netherlands

Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to Canada's war dead at a service in the Netherlands this morning. Watch his speech and highlights of Monday's events.

Doing the right thing comes at a cost, PM says at VE Day service

Hundreds pay homage to heroes who liberated Netherlands in WW2 1:56

Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid tribute to Canada's war dead at a service in the Netherlands this morning.

He was joined by a few dozen surviving veterans of the battles to liberate northwest Europe, which culminated with the surrender of Nazi German forces 70 years ago.

Harper spoke of the great sacrifices made by the now-dwindling war-time generation, saying they understood that some things were worth fighting and dying for — a sentiment that remains today.

"The heroes who liberated the Netherlands, like the men and women who serve our country today understood that when there arises a great evil, a threat to all the things that define our existence as a free and just people, such enemies must be confronted," he said.

Stephen Harper's address at Holten cemetery marks 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands 11:02

He delivered the speech at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery, near Arnhem, which contains the graves of 1,350 Canadian soldiers, many of whom were killed in the late stages of the war as the allies cleared the Netherlands and pushed into Germany.

Harper said each headstone was a stark reminder that doing the right thing often comes at a great cost — but a cost that must be paid.

Canadian Second World War veteran Sandy Sanderson, 88, of Niagara Falls, Ont., pays tribute to Canada's war dead at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery, near Arnhem, Netherlands, on Monday, May 4, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"When tyranny threatens the free, when cruelty torments the innocent, when desperation overwhelms the human spirit, we choose to respond, we choose the high road forward, not the easy way out. We choose risk not for reward, but for righteousness, we choose to fight for freedom, we choose to defend the innocent, we choose to bring hope to the world."

The nearby village of Holten was liberated by Canadians on April 8, 1945 after fierce house to house fighting. And Harper said the bond was forged between Canada and the Netherlands in those dark days still endures.

"Canadians will never forget the welcome our troops received in this country as the war ended. Canadians will never cease to marvel at how this starving and scarred land so quickly became the prosperous, progressive and generous country we know today, a partner in so many things, including Iraq."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.