July 10, 2012
From July 13, 2012 to July 23, 2012, I will have the honour and the privilege of taking part in the Nijmegen Marches program – a rigorous and prestigious annual event in the Netherlands. The Marches have involved Canadian participation since 1952. They require that entrants complete the four-day (June 17-20, 2012) 160-km (4 x 40-km) march in combat uniform, carrying a minimum rucksack load of 10-kg. The event annually draws over 40,000 marchers from 50 different nations — and is witnessed by over 1 million spectators along the 160-km route.
2012 marks the 96th time the Marches have been held since they began in 1909. The Marches are both a challenging and an emotional experience, especially for Canadian Forces members.
The Nijmegen March is the largest annual pilgrimage of Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen to a war cemetery outside of Canada. During the Second World War, Canadian soldiers liberated the area around Nijmegen, and there is a large Canadian military cemetery in nearby Groesbeek. It serves as the final resting place for over 2,300 Canadian soldiers and airmen. The cemetery is on the route of the 3rd day of the March, and all military marchers halt there to pay their respects and conduct remembrance services.
The Canadian ceremony is also among the largest and most elaborate. For most of the young Canadian marchers, it is the first time they have visited a Canadian War Cemetery, and they are often left surprised at just how emotional an experience it is. They also come away with a better understanding of their own history, and they see why the Dutch people hold the Canadian teams in such high regard.
Throughout the Nijmegen program, I will post commentary and photos to my Nijmegen Marches Blog, which can be be accessed by clicking the menu selection at the top of my website (www.mprandyhoback.ca). I will also be posting updates via Facebook and Twitter.
Everyone is also invited to follow my progress via the Runtastic widget located at the bottom right of my website. Clicking the link in the widget will bring users to my official Runtastic activity site – which displays both a map and statistics of my progress.
I have also added a application which links my Facebook page to my Runtastic activity site.