Above: Candles burn on the war graves of Canadian soldiers at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery and Memorial. – Submitted Photos
by Stephen Dafoe
Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery and Memorial, the largest cemetery in Holland, is located eight kilometres southeast of Nijmegen, the Netherland’s oldest city.
There are 2,619 war dead buried at Groesbeek; 2,338 were Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the Second World War, many during the Battle of the Rhineland (Feb 8 – Mar 10, 1945).
For the past three years, Alberta veteran Peter Marwick, currently a resident of Morinville, has raised funds to place candles on the graves at Groesbeek.
In 2017, while attending a ceremony, Marwick learned that the candles’ sponsor was pulling out due to the expenses. In 2018, Marwick spoke to the local Council and donated €3000 ($4,659 CDN), monies collected from family and friends instead of buying gifts for his birthday.
Taking it on as a life mission to raise funds to buy the candles every year, Marwick is now in his third year of raising funds.
Marwick said it is important to remember the past and to remember all the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“We are slowly erasing our history, and soon there will be nothing to remember,” Marwick said. “Jan 28, 1918, John McCrea [In Flander’s Field author] passed away and is buried in Wimereux, France. I have been to his grave. On the 100th Anniversary of his death, not one single person from the Canadian Government was at his graveside. Not One, yet every Nov 11, we cry tears of sorrow when that poem is read. How many people know Who John McCrea even is. We have become a society of people who are interested only in our own welfare and care nothing of their city, province or country.”
Marwick went on to say he wished more would be done for veterans and to remember Canada’s veterans.
With Covid-19 taking its toll, making it difficult on everyone, Marwick said any donation would help purchase a candle.
“The tip you would have left the person if you were allowed to go out and eat. Any spare change you find between the cushions in your couch. Any coins you find on the floorboard in your vehicle. It will all help,” Marwick said. “What is the price for your freedom? A lot of men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom. To honour and remember them with a purchase of a single candle that will be placed on their grave Christmas Eve. These men and women will never come home for Christmas. They gave their lives for us.”
Marwick said a single candle on their grave to honour them and let them know their sacrifice is appreciated and that Canadians will never forget is not too much to ask.
“We need to be more patriotic. We live in the best and most beautiful country in the world,” Marwick said. “Ask a Veteran; they will tell you.”
How to donate
Donations can be made at any CIBC branch, deposited directly to account 010 07979 8336687. Cheques can be sent directly to Candles of Remembrance c/o Peter Marwick 9702 97 Avenue Morinville, AB T8R 1S5. eTransfers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the password: Candles.