Monday, May 28, 2007

A Memorial Weekend

While those of you in the States are celebrating Memorial Day, we here in Europe are also celebrating a holiday for Pentecost. So Donica is officially off work in both places for a change.

Because of the long weekend, we made the decision to take a day-trip to nearby Leiden this past Saturday. It was a 40-minute train ride each way, 25 miles (40km) SW of Amsterdam. Leiden is a university town (the first in Holland, from 1575) where the Pilgrims lived before they ventured to Plymouth Rock. It's also where Rembrandt was born and developed his painting skills.

As we came out of the train station and headed towards town, I was struck by how modern the structure is. So unlike the other train stations I've been used to in Europe!

But the rest of the city was NOT modern and did not disappoint us. The town hall (above) is from the 17th century.

We did a two-hour self-guided walking tour in 3+ hours but before that, we took a 40-minute canal ride around the city. We passed by this observatory, which is Europe's second oldest, next to the one in St. Petersburg.

Because this is where Rembrandt was born in 1606, he is everywhere on huge murals/posters wherever a structure can hold him. And I mean everywhere! I'm guessing they really spruced up the city last year for his 400th anniversary!

The Hooglandse Kerk was founded in 1314 as a wooden chapel, dedicated to St. Pancras. In 1366 construction on a gothic church was begun, but never finished.

We saw so many wonderful things in our 5 hours in Leiden, but as you'd imagine, nothing thrilled me more than the 2 windmills in town (and one we saw on the outskirts from the train but which I didn't capture). As I told Donica, this first one near the tourist office was worth the entire trip. I could have died and gone to heaven at that very point!

These are my first windmills in Holland this year...and NOT from Amsterdam. And you're seeing them first here before I show them on my photoblog!

So, that was our holiday treat for this weekend. I wonder if YOU did anything special? And if you remembered anyone who died in miltary service to our country?

My sister, Ruth, reminded me that our paternal grandfather served in the Civil War (1861-65). Pay attention, now, because even I find this hard to believe. He was 70 when Dad was born in 1917 (Dad's mom was 47!) and died 9 years later (so I obviously never met him!). While he did not die in the Civil War, I do "remember" him for his service to our country.

And I'm remembering Barkley Bowman, who died in the Viet Nam War back in the '60s. He was in our InterVarsity group at Michigan and I dated him once. One day I want to go to the Viet Nam Memorial in D.C. and trace his name with my finger.

Let's not forget. And God help us, please, to learn the lessons we need to be learning from all these wars!


  1. My connections with you continue to grow! You might remember that my dad was a spry young'un when I was born compared to your grandfather-a mere 65 years old. My Dad and your granddad - those old devils! :) He also served in WWII for just a few months before he was honorably discharged.

    So glad you hear you and Donica are enjoying your long weekend in Amsterdam. The photos are amazing, as always!

  2. I just love the windmills, no matter where! They give everything such a nostagic touch, don't they? In the second pict, I really like the PS sepia filter you used.

    We've been entertaining and been entertained this weekend. Today was our first "real" day off since weeks, which was good because the weather was bad (kept us indoors) and if gave me a chance to write about our trip to Austria. Next weekend, we're off to Holland.

  3. Mad: Ha! I had forgotten that about your dad! Yes, another connection. Those old devils is right. :)

    CS: I also have the first windmill in sepia and textured for my photoblog, but I decided to show at least one of them in color here. So glad you love windmills, as I do. There are few structures that have that effect on me! It was raining her in A'dam today as well, which has had a cozy feel. I can't complain because we've have very little rain during my time here. Hopefully you'll have a great weekend when you're here a week from now!!

  4. ginnie, Is there more to the windmills than love at first sight? Just curious why the connection?
    My grandfather was left for dead on the battlefield in WWI and was somehow discovered and made it out with a bad head wound. He had four children after that, my dad was the second. He actually enlisted in Canada to join early, and didn't finish high school. He came out, with a letter from the King of England wishing him godspeed, finished high school as an adult, and went on to college and became a teacher.
    thanks for your memorial memories!

  5. haha...those were my exact words when i first saw windmill in Holland.....i could not stop twirling words can describe the happy elated feeling .....and it wa son my honeymoon!!!!! loved this post completely.....ur wit and pictures keep bringing me back :)

  6. Susan: No, not for me. I have always loved windmills, even as a little girl. Never did I know I'd live part-time in the country of them! And what a wonderful story about your own grandfather! We all need to share these stories.

    Moi: What a great place for a honeymoon! So glad I could bring back happy memories!

  7. Thanks for the information about Leiden! That church is huge!

    Here are lyrics from James Taylor's "Belfast to Boston", on the October Road CD. I tried finding a link to the recording but couldn't. It's more poignant to hear him sing it:

    There are rifles buried in the countryside for the rising of the moon
    May they lie there long forgotten till they rust away into the ground
    Who will bend this ancient hatred, will the killing to an end
    Who will swallow long injustice, take the devil for a country man
    Who will say this far no further, oh lord, if I die today

    Send no weapons no more money. send no vengeance across the seas
    Just the blessing of forgiveness for my new countryman and me

    Missing brothers, martyred fellows, silent children in the ground
    Could we but hear them could they not tell us
    Time to lay god’s rifle down

    Who will say this far no further, oh lord, if I die today.

  8. My Grandpa Frank Maki died in Vietnam just before my Mother had me. I came to fill the hole in my Mother's heart. I am so sad that I never met him- my Mother tells me of what an amazing person he was. I should do a blog on him:)

  9. Ruth: Wow. Those are powerful lyrics!

    So Hum: Yes, please do a blog on him, Rachel. We need to keep the memories of these veterans alive!

  10. I remember leiden. I spent a day there with my friend Kim who was so so so cool! We took a few pics, rode bikes and then I was off to meet my friend again...