“I’m speechless”

Some time ago I used to make a daily drawing on my iPad with Draw Something, an online game app that is played with random players around the world. The other player has to guess the word that you are drawing. One of my drawings represented a soldier holding a puppy. The word to be guessed was ‘Ray-Bans’ and in my drawing he was wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses, of course. The other player guessed the word and the Draw Something app offers the possibility to give short reactions in 100 characters. The unknown person commented: “He looks like my father”.

It took me several drawings to understand that I was communicating with an American lady. She wrote to me that her father had died during World War II in Boslar, Germany, after the liberation of Limburg in the Netherlands. I gave her my email address and it appeared that the unknown lady lived in Tucson (Arizona) and that her first name was Brenda. She emailed me the whole story. Actually she had never known her father, because he had left his family to liberate Europe when she was still an infant. Today his grave is located at the American Cemetery of Margraten, coincidentally only 4 miles away from my hometown of Maastricht. Via email she sent me a link containing all the details of her father’s grave.

In the Netherlands the liberators of World War II are highly respected. After more than 60 years the awareness that many foreign soldiers died for our freedom, is still present. In the Cemetery of Margraten we can find the graves of over 8.000 soldiers. And every year representatives from our Government and Royal family attend the impressive ceremony on Memorial Day. This year our Prime Minister gave a thankful speech with a historical perspective. It’s a dramatic thought that Brenda lost her father in exchange for my family’s existence in freedom. I owe her and her brother and family a thankful respect, because of the crucial contribution made by her father and all his fellow liberators.

It took a while before I discovered Cameo, the app that makes it possible to produce your own video-mail. The day before Memorial Day I took the opportunity to give Brenda an impression of a trip to the Cemetery where her father is buried, and to show her and her brother the location of his grave. First I bought a colourful flower arrangement and then I drove with my daughter to Margraten. Immediately I started filming during this short trip – it was a beautiful day – and I made a number of shots in the cemetery. In the afternoon I edited this little film with my iPhone as a personal video-letter, with text on screen and additional music. The score by Jonathan Knight was very suitable for this message and has the title: “Lost”.

The result is a five minute video with high value for those who lost their father so young and never had a chance to pay a visit to his grave on the other side of the ocean. Later that evening Brenda and her brother saw the video and she replied: ‘I’m speechless. It is much more than just a little video. So valuable in this ever changing world.’ For me this was a chance to show my deep respect for all those families who lost their loved ones for our freedom.

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