At the Liberation festival in Alkmaar, The Netherlands
On 5th of May 2023, we were honored to receive the Dutch ‘Freedom Fire’ (aka Liberation Fire) into the Flame of Hope at the annual Liberation festival in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. The Freedom Fire is the 15th flame that was unified and the very first one from The Netherlands. (see here for all flames)
Let me tell the story of the long journey of this flame!
Dutch Freedom Fire, in Wageningen
This fire commemorates the liberation of The Netherlands in May 1945 and stands as a symbol of freedom and peace and lights up the whole country in whole country at Liberation festivals each year.
The message of the Fire is
“Freedom is not self-evident, we have to work on it continuously.”
The Flame of Hope is the eternal flame that unifies historic and sacred flames of the world into a single flame, to bring the whole of humanity together with the same wish: peace. The Flame of Hope has a mission to share the message of each unified flame with everyone on the earth.
(photo: the national freedom monument in Wageningen)
Spread the spirit of Freedom
On 4 May 1945 the capitulation was signed by the German occupation force at the The World Hotel, in the city of Wageningen. It’s fitting that the national commemoration ceremony is held there annually.
(Photo: The ceremony at the Hotel de Wereld, teams receive the fire)
Making the transition from commemoration of the dead to the celebration of the liberation, this Fire of Freedom is ignited at 12 midnight at the 5th of May Square in front of the The World Hotel, and distributed to long-distance relay teams that come from all over Holland and run together to bring it back to their local liberation festival in their hometown.
This ‘National Liberation Fire Relay’ is a big event, a flame-relay like no other in the world happens.
(video: ceremony broadcasted on the national TV
Alkmaars’ team running after receiving the Fire.)
Alkmaars Liberation Festival
The reception of the Freedom Fire was planned at Alkmaars festival, the homebase city of Flame of Hope in The Netherlands. The location is the green park “de Hout” in the city’s center. There were peace organizations like Amnesty International and many workshops for children. The most impressive activity was children building a life-size replica watch tower, the symbol of Alkmaar, that was 26 meters high! (watch tower replica photo: Youri Hoeben)
Alkmaar’s athletic association Hylas ran 175 km all through the night carrying the torch light and arrived at the festival around 14:00. The mayor, Anja Schouten, proudly greeted the team and opened the festival. The highlight of the day: the fire being lit at the big pole by Mayor Schouten and Hugo Koeman, chairman of the May 5th Committee that organized the Liberation Festival until 2022 and collaborated with the organizer of the festival this year. He received the honor of citizenship that day for his decades’ of dedicated work for peace. A Dutch custom at the party: a big toast with beer to the runners! (photo: Youri Hoeven)
Then the Flame of Hope was introduced and Hugo added the Freedom Fire to the Flame of Hope.
“There is still enough to do, pls do something!
Freedom and Peace has to do with respecting each other. I wish lots of mutual respect for everyone.”
The opening ended with a beautiful Ukrainian dance, with music and spoken words. All the visitors enjoyed the nice weather and a jovial festival atmosphere until late into the night!
Many thanks to the organization of the festival and Hugo Koeman, who made this unification possible!
This Freedom Fire is brought every May 4th and 5thy from the city of Eindhoven to Wageningen. Let me tell you the unique and magnificent history of this Fire in the next blog: unification of the Freedom fire – Part 2.