PHILIPSBURG: Two teenagers connected with the waning memory of World War II in a very tangible way on May 4, Remembrance Day (in Dutch: “Dodenherdenkingsdag”) when they read excerpts from the lives of two St. Maarten residents who experienced the war as children.
Excerpts of the war-touched stories of Elsje Bosch and Gerard van Veen were read by winners of the 2020 Governor’s Youth Award of Excellence Riya Baharani Khemchandani (Academics) and Sara Bharwani (Environmental Protection) respectively.
Well-known heritage activist Bosch lost her father prior to the end of World War II. He was murdered by the Nazis for his active role in the Dutch resistance against their occupation of the Netherlands. Baharani Khemchandani shared Bosch’s experiences with the audience.
Passages from Van Veen’s book, “Schoolboy in wartime” was read by Bharwani. Van Veen, a former Catholic priest and author, recounted in his book his childhood and experiences of his family in the war in his native Alkmaar.
The readings were part of the ceremony on Captain Hodge Wharf where the War Memorial stands. An honor guard of uniformed ranks, including the Dutch Marine Detachment in St. Maarten, was present along with Governor Eugene Holiday, ministers, Bosch, Van Veen and others.