Veteran volunteers royally honoured for community work
To say Willie Kruter has had an exciting May is an understatement.
Early in the month, Kruter became the first female to receive the Cross of Merit from the Veterans Legion in the Netherlands.
She then topped off the honour by dining with Princess Margriet and her husband during their recent four-day visit to Canada.
The Cross of Merit was presented to Kruter during a special meeting of the Dutch Canadian Veteran Association at the Ancaster Achievement Centre.
Lt. Col. Edwin Saidoo, president of the Dutch legion, was visiting Canada for the May 5 Liberation of Holland ceremonies and dropped by the meeting to bring greetings from abroad.
“He started to talk, and he kept looking at me,” said Kruter.
“It was really a surprise (to be presented with the cross). I felt like I was picked because of all the things I do, but I didn’t do all those things by myself.”
Kruter joined her husband, Chris, as a member of the Dutch Canadian Veteran Association 30 years ago.
Since then, she has taken up almost every task imaginable, from providing lunch at monthly meetings to filling out paperwork and organizing details, small and large, surrounding the annual Hamilton memorial ceremony that expresses gratitude and remembers the Canadians who drove out Nazi occupying forces during the Second World War.
“Willie is such a major part of the organization that if she didn’t do it our association wouldn’t exist,” said her husband, Chris.
On May 16, the Kruters dined with Princess Margriet, her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven and 56 others at Spencer’s at the Waterfront in Burlington.
Unlike a previous dinner invitation seven years ago, the Kruters did not have the opportunity to speak with the couple, but it was still a pleasure to be in the royals’ company, said Kruter.
“They are very, very nice people,” she said.
Hamilton’s Dutch Canadian Veteran Association, which meets the second Saturday of each month, is the last such group remaining in Canada, after other groups in Toronto, London and Chatham folded.