Traditionally, there is an annual liberation commemoration in Lembeek, Essenbeek and Halle center. This year we were present in Lembeek at “the Vrede van Hondzocht” The city of Halle, together with the Patriotic associations, pays tribute with a musical tribute and flower laying.
On September 3, 1944, Halle was the first Flemish city liberated after 4 years of German occupation, after a final battle near Hondzocht. On Saturday 3 September, several commemorative ceremonies commemorated the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. We do this with flowers and music. Each commemoration is musically concluded with the Te Velde and the National Hymne.
The reenactment group Margaille accompanied this procession with 4 army vehicles. A group from Kortrijk was also present.
Also read: Commemoration of the liberation of the City of Halle – September 3, 2022 | Press info
Photos © Jan Demol
Speech by the mayor Marc Snoeck:
On September 3, 1944, Halle was the first Flemish city to be liberated from a four-year German occupation. British, American, Dutch and Belgian soldiers passed through our city 78 years ago, coming from Bergen and Enghien.
In 2019, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, we organized a large solemn commemoration in the presence of the British Welsh Guards in the Albert Park. Over the next two years we had to cancel many meetings and commemorations of the veterans’ and patriotic associations; but not the commemoration of the liberation of our city. It seemed as if we were also liberated from the stubborn corona animal in September 2020 and in September 2021.
And this somewhat prosaic introduction, dear attendees, brings me to the theme that I would like to bring to your attention today. For 78 years – and this non-stop – and every year at the beginning of September, ordinary men and women paid tribute to inhabitants of our city, who died for our homeland and for the ideals of freedom and democracy. In the period just after 1944, this naturally mobilized a lot of people. The war was still fresh in my mind at the time. Everyone knew all too well the meaning of war. Everyone knew only too well the misery and misery the past four years had brought. Everyone was familiar with refugees, fear, hunger, disease and death; because they were confronted with it every day.
Over the years, however, interest in these kinds of ceremonies declined. People born in the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties are of course very lucky that they have never known a war. Or not in person. Of course, the media knows that there is always a war going on somewhere in the world. But this is always more or less far from our bed. We don’t really lose sleep over it.
I sometimes had the impression when we held our small parade and commemoration for the past ten years, the accidental passers-by sometimes looked at us with a strange and pitying look and wondered, what are those people doing with their banners and Belgian bracelets. Is this still of this time? What do they have to say during all these years? What messages do they still have to bring that can be of use to us in these modern and peaceful times? I can imagine – and I can’t blame them yet – that some people think it still makes sense to have such ceremonies. We live in a united and strong Europe and in more or less carefree times
And look… for 78 years the ancient and patriotic associations, your predecessors, the current chairman, board members and standard bearers have kept the torch burning and passed on throughout that period. Throughout all these years, you have always conveyed the same message: war is a terror on all levels and peace is never finally achieved. Never forget your history, because it determines the future.
Since the war in Ukraine – now six months ago – broke out in full force, this message is of course more topical than ever. Who could have ever dared to think that a bloody war is going on about 1500 kilometers from our country, in which nobody or nothing is spared. No civilians, no children, no elderly… No one escapes this drama.
Everyone is realizing more and more that this does not seem to be coming to an immediate end. Everything is stuck. An endless spiral of violence, bidding, propaganda, economic and financial measures and countermeasures is now beginning to penetrate and affect each of us. The spiral of unprecedented inflation, skyrocketing gas and electricity bills, skyrocketing prices for food and commodities is starting to weigh on us. Many citizens, organisations, farmers, cities and municipalities, SMEs, but also somewhat larger companies are crying out for help and loudly proclaiming that this situation is no longer tenable.
Suddenly we all realize that we are in this boat. That war so close to us has an impact that affects us more than we ever imagined.
Of course we don’t have a crystal ball and we’re not Nostradamus either, so we can’t see into the future and we don’t know how all this will develop.
But still we are a little more worried; are we awake because of the bills that we cannot pay, are we worried about our job and the future of our children and so we are suddenly somehow involved in the war in Ukraine, which also affects our society in all affects its parts.
I certainly do not want to convey a message of pessimism at this commemoration of people who, through their efforts and courage, have shown us the way. Let us all hope that common sense will prevail and that peace talks will be restarted soon.
The moral of this story is that veterans’ and patriotic associations don’t convey an outdated or old-fashioned message at all. On the contrary, they are the ones who, during all these years, and perhaps as the only organisation, are constantly calling on us, citizens and politicians, to take action on the well-known and universally accepted slogan “No more war”.
The applause is therefore all for these people.
Marc Snoeck – mayor – September 3, 2022