A big change to march meets with re­sis­tance

Dutch ini­tially ex­clude those with a ‘strong build’

Orlando Sentinel - - WALL STREET REPORT - By Amanda Erick­son

It is meant to be a somber event, an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate in­cred­i­ble brav­ery in the face of evil.

But this time around, de­bate on fat-sham­ing.

Each year, peo­ple gather at Waals­dor­per­vlakte near The Hague to honor 250 Dutch re­sis­tance fight­ers mur­dered by the Nazis dur­ing World War II. Those caught col­lect­ing in­tel­li­gence for the Al­lies or help­ing Jews es­cape were im­pris­oned and then ex­e­cuted by Ger­mans at Waals­dor­per­vlakte.

In the years af­ter the war, the “Re­mem­brance of the Dead” was or­ga­nized to com­mem­o­rate all Dutch peo­ple killed in mil­i­tary con­flicts and on peace­keep­ing mis­sions.

It is one of the most sa­cred events in the Nether­lands. Each May 4, an honor guard com­pris­ing rel­a­tives of the dead and vol­un­teers gather to march and ob­serve a two-minute si­lence at 4 p.m. Traf­fic and pub­lic trans­porta­tion grind to a halt; tele­vi­sion sta­tions air only broad­casts of the cer­e­mony.

Thou­sands of peo­ple par­tic­i­pate each year. And or­ga­niz­ers aren’t sure that is a good thing.

This year, they de­cided that over­weight vol­un­teers should not par­tic­i­pate in the tele­vised “guard of honor.” Notes leaked from a meet­ing and trans­lated by the Guardian read, in part: “A num­ber of mem­bers of the guard of honor are start­ing to get a sub­stan­tial stature, at least for this func­tion . ... There are reg­u­larly com­ments and com­plaints about it. In or­der to pre­vent this, we will have to give peo­ple with too strong a stature a dif­fer­ent task.”

Or­ga­niz­ers blamed the de­ci­sion on op­tics, say­ing par­tic­i­pants’ uni­forms “did not look good” on heav­ier vol­un­teers, be­cause of “burst­ing but­tons,” ac­cord­ing to the Guardian.

One long­time par­tic­i­pant, Bas Jon­ge­neel (who de­scribed him­self as some­one with a “strong build”), told lo­cal re­porters that he had been as­signed to the cater­ing team this year, af­ter several years as a marcher. His wife, Fran­cisca Roeten, com­plained about the de­ci­sion. “You can­not dis­crim­i­nate in the Nether­lands, but an as­so­ci­a­tion that com­mem­o­rates our war heroes hides away peo­ple with a big­ger belly, in their eyes,” she told lo­cal broad­cast­ers. Oth­ers also com­plained of dis­crim­i­na­tion. The blow­back has got­ten so bad that Vin­cent van Gaal, chair­man of the Ere­pelo­ton Waals­dorp or­ga­ni­za­tion, which runs the event, has promised to re­peal the de­ci­sion. it has sparked a

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