Following the news of the cancellation of the 2020 Four-Day Marches Nijmegen scheduled for July 21-24 in the Netherlands, the Canadian Forces Contingent announced a CAF Virtual Commemorative March that took place on May 5 and 8.
The virtual version of the march in Canada allowed Nijmegen participants to put all their tremendous training efforts to use, with hundreds of hours and kilometres already under their belt, in a two-day 20 km route of their choice.
Joan Cook, The Royal Canadian Legion’s representative for the 2020 Marches Nijmegen, participated in the Virtual March.
“I’ve been training hard six days a week,” says Joan. “I’ve been following the military’s training schedule and march three times a week with a 20-pound backpack on the country roads in my neighbourhood where physical distancing isn’t an issue. The other days I’ve been following an at-home online fitness training program.”
The Virtual Commemorative March also included a moment of reflection at a community cenotaph, allowing the participants to recognize and honour the historical milestone of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and Victory in Europe—a milestone of personal importance for Joan, who has a strong connection to Canada’s military history.
“My grandfather served in the Second World War on the SS Empire Bison torpedoed on November 1, 1940. My grandmother received the Silver (Memorial) Cross, which I have since inherited. My husband and I are also Veterans,” says Joan.
“Participating in the Nijmegen Marches as the Legion’s representative is another way to honour my grandfather, along with my father, husband and all those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice."
Although Joan will not be marching in the Netherlands this July, she is grateful for the opportunity to represent the Legion remotely and to have the chance to participate in the 2021 Marches Nijmegen.
“I am so pleased I was able to do these marches and to participate with the team, even though we aren’t together physically. We were together virtually and in spirit of commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and the Victory in Europe respectively. I am honoured and feel privileged that I was still able to represent the Legion this year in commemorating this anniversary and am so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to participate next year.”
For more information on the Marches Nijmegen visit https://www.4daagse.nl/en/