Canadian Armed Forces teams wrap up 2019 Nijmegen Marches

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On July 21st, 175 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members completed the 103rd International Four Days Marches Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

This marked the CAF’s 67th year of participation in the marches. The Canadian Armed Forces contingent, made up of 14 teams, plus other participants, and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Éric Quirion, marched for between 8 and 10 hours each day July 16-19. Participants marched 160 kilometres over the four days, going through the countryside and towns that surround the city of Nijmegen.

Including support staff, 216 Canadian representatives made the trip.

CAF participation in these marches highlights Canada’s continued and unique connection to the Netherlands. As CAF members marched where Canadians fought during the Second World War, they remembered and honoured those Canadians’ bravery and reflected on their own commitment to serve Canada today.

Originally a means for the Dutch infantry to increase their long-distance marching and weight-carrying ability, the Nijmegen Marches have evolved into an international four-day event that draws more than 40,000 civilians from 84 countries, in addition to 6,000 military participants.

Beyond the symbolic significance for the Canadian military, the marches present a physical and mental challenge for CAF participants, for whom strength and endurance are critical factors in their operational effectiveness. During the marches, each participant must carry a weighted pack of 10 kilograms.

While in Europe, the Canadian participants of the Nijmegen Marches held a commemorative event at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France on July 12. On July 13, they held a remembrance ceremony at Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands, which is home to 968 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War’s Battle of the Scheldt. They then marched through the city streets of Bergen Op Zoom to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation. On July 15, the contingent held a memorial service at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, where 2,338 Canadian soldiers who participated in the campaign to liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War are buried.

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