Lessons of Liberation

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Young Dutch women climbed onto the tanks to hug the Canadians.

The end of World War II, experienced by many people who later immigrated to the United States and Canada, was unforgettable.

Seventy years ago, on May 5, the Canadians liberated our city of Oudewater in the Netherlands. We saw the tanks rolling through the streets with smiling Canadian soldiers waving to the crowds. The crowds were ecstatic, waving the Dutch red, white, and blue flag again, along with the orange, the royal color of the Netherlands, forbidden for five long years. Young Dutch women climbed onto the tanks to hug the Canadians. Thinking of that celebration still brings tears to my eyes. As a kid I stood in the middle of the crowds in total awe.

My father had been deeply involved in the underground resistance movement. He was foreman in a warehouse and 20 greenhouses that had become a supply- and nerve-center. In the boiler cellars was forbidden radio contact with London, England.

As an 8-year-old, my job was to stand watch for the Gestapo. I remember three SS soldiers emptying all our closets as my mom stood by with tears in her eyes. We kids joined in the crying, so glad that they found nothing. We knew where a lot of stuff was hidden—way underneath the anemones, freesias, and cauliflower in the greenhouses.

How can we ever thank America and Canada enough for the freedom they helped bring? How can we thank Almighty God enough? He, after all, brings even more—freedom from tyranny plus freedom from the tyranny of sin and evil that causes wars. He provides the Prince of Peace for anyone who surrenders to receive the gift of everlasting peace.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch remember all the fallen who perished on land, at sea, in the air, and in concentration camps, for our freedom on the anniversary of liberation.

Have we learned anything?

What about America trading five terrorists for one U.S. deserter? What about Benghazi, where four American officials died? What about Iraq and ISIS? Against the advice of U.S. generals, America pulled out of Iraq without leaving sufficient power and protection and left a vacuum that the terrorists filled. Now it is costing more and more lives. Minorities and Christians are being slaughtered. The enemy is emboldened by the U.S.’s portrayal of weakness and failure to act when it is so desperately needed.

A strong America means a much safer world.

As we look back to remember and give thanks for freedom during this 70th anniversary year, may we all be in prayer and repentance to turn back to the Author and Provider of liberty. “If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

About the Author

 

John Van Hemert is chaplain of the Port of Palm Beach, Fla. He has served churches in Canada and the U.S. for 37 years.

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