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Dutch, U.S. troops, Families mark Queen’s Day at BLORA

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
May 9, 2013 | Leisure
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Quetzali Beltran, 5, gets her face painted by Laura Janssen Sunday at BLORA during the Dutch Coronation celebration, Queen’s Day, in honor of the nation’s first king in more than 100 years. Photos by Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Members of 21st Cav. Bde. and the Dutch community gather for a group photo during the annual celebration of Dutch culture.
Family time was a cultural experience for Soldiers and Families of the 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) and the Joint Netherlands Training Detachment on Sun.

As Dutch Soldiers assigned to Fort Hood’s 21st Cav. Bde. held their annual Queen’s Day celebration at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, the contingent had a little extra reason to revel this year.

In Holland, Apr. 30 is traditionally observed as a national holiday, Queen’s Day. Next year, the holiday will move to Apr. 27 and will be known as King’s Day.

After more than 30 years on the throne, Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated her position to her son, King Willem-Alexander, making him the nation’s first king in more than 100 years.

“We are celebrating because we have a king in the Netherlands for the first time in 123 years,” Marsha Claassen said. “It’s just a celebration to bring us all together.”

Claassen came to Fort Hood from Holland to mark the

celebration here with her sister.

The celebration at Fort Hood coincided with another Dutch holiday as the nation marks its liberation from the Nazis on May 5. On Sat., Dutch marked Remembrance of the Dead day.

“Yesterday, we spent time thinking of those lost in World War II and all of those who have fought for us,” Yvonne Groenhuijzen, who was visiting her daughter from Holland to attend the event, said.

The ladies joined their countrymen off all ages, as well as many of the Americans in attendance, in donning orange clothing for the celebration.

“Orange is the color of Holland,” Claassen said. “Way back in our history, the royal family name is Oranje.”

The name comes from the Oranje region in France, Maj. Jereon van Bruchem, air operations, Joint Netherlands Training Detachment, said. Holland’s first royal, Willem I, came from Oranje.

Americans and Dutch children played games, made Dutch-oriented crafts and got their faces painted while adults mingled and toasted to Holland’s new king.

The toasts included orange bitters, van Bruchem said, adding that it is an acquired taste.

“No one likes it,” he admitted, after joining a toast to his country’s new king.

The royal family is widely popular in the Netherlands, Claassen said.

As king, Willem-Alexander will perform ceremonial and diplomatic duties for the nation, and work closely with other nations to build and strengthen partnerships within the international community, van Bruchem said.

In Holland, large Queen’s Day celebrations are hosted in the major cities, and the small Dutch community at Fort Hood hosts their celebration to feel part of home.

“We do this to remind ourselves that we are Dutch, all the way here in Texas,” van Bruchem said. “In the Netherlands, this is like (the U.S.’s) Fourth of July and Mardi Gras in one. Here, we get the Dutch together to sing our national anthem and drink orange bitters.”

Americans who work with the Dutch at Fort Hood enjoy the Dutch culture during the annual event.

“We had a tremendous time at the event last year,” Col. Neil Hersey, commander, 21st Cav. Bde., said. “It’s great to be a part of that culture and enjoy the cultural experience.”

Hersey said working with the Dutch Soldiers every day and participating in their celebration serves to expand the partnership.

“We live the coalition partnership on a daily basis,” he said.
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