Saturday, 26 December 2015

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherland's Christmas Speech - English Translation

Christmas gives us a moment of reflection. A chance to get away from the daily flow of events, helps make it clear what we believe in ourselves and what we stand for.

This is needed, now that Europe is facing one of the biggest challenges of the past few decades. The attacks in Paris are still fresh in our memory. In the regions around us are large groups of people have been displaced due to terror and violence. They search in the Netherlands for a safe haven and a chance at a better life.

Many people in the Netherlands are worried about the future and wonder how we can protect our own way of life in a world which we are not closed off to.

What is particularly close to our heart is our freedom and ability to make our own choices. That freedom we fought so hard and made many sacrifices to get!

In May this year my wife and I visited Canada. We spoke to a group of Canadian veterans. One of them was the 90-year-old Bud Hannam. In 1945, he fought in the battle for the liberation of Apeldoorn (City in Netherlands). He told  me how he was back then and his words made a big impression on me. He said, "It cost me my youth. But I feel that it was worth it afterwards. To see the freedom ... and the joy of the people who were liberated. "

Freedom is so essential to the Netherlands, from the very beginning. On King's Day this year we were in the Court of the Netherlands in Dordrecht, where in 1572 the first Free State Congress took place. There we signed along with other Dutch, the text: "Here the foundation was laid for an independent country. Where you are free to think what you think, believe what you believe and be who you are. "

What we have done with the freedom that was fought so hard over the centuries? We have done Good! We have built a democratic state that is in many ways the strongest in the world. With a high level of prosperity and amenities. And with millions of citizens who are selflessly for others. I spent the past year  meeting and talking with many of them. It is great what you're doing!

There is still do very important work to do in our country for everyone involves. Some feel abandoned and insufficiently heard. But our country - our place in the world - is precious to us. Netherlands is a country to call home.

Yet this does not make us invulnerable to worry and anxiety. Events can overtake us and we may not know what to do. Achievements are not always obvious.

Of course we want to protect what is dear to us. We can not stop our fear or deny it. But we must not give it reins over our life and let fear dominate our society. Tranquility and mutual trust are friends of freedom. "Do not be afraid," the angel on Christmas night said to the shepherds in the field.

When it comes to major challenges we must show that we stand together, our democracy and our constitutional state. It is essential that people can dignify and be at peace with one another,  while allowing people to be different. Peace is not for the idle. It requires courage to listen to each other and  not be critical of their beleifs. This courage is required from all of us, now we must work together to find a way in this turbulent time. The challenge is now to show what we together as liberated country are really worth.

In times like these it is clear how much we share with the countries around us. Belief in freedom. Respect for the life of every human being and the right's of everyone's to make their own choices. Solidarity with those who really need our help. Concern for the future of our planet, as we showed this month in Paris, when the European countries united.

These values are the heartbeat of our society. They are essential for us as free people and always give us the strength to continue.

Our combined strength reaches farther and connects more than we sometimes think. We do not crawl back into our shell. On the contrary. We are proud of our free and open way of life. Our belief that everyone in our Kingdom should be on an equal footing and should be able to participate. And our laws that protects the defenseless and prevents only the loudest voices from being heard.

The complex world in which we live is not more challenging, or more difficult, than it was for generations before us. Listens to veterans, those who have been persecuted and persevered, those who have built our country after the war with scarce resources again, and you will realizes that.

According to the apostle Paul, freedom is a calling. I have great confidence in the ability of our country - even now - to respond to this call and to remain a community of free people.

I wish all of you - wherever you happen to be and no matter your personal circumstances - a blessed Christmas.

Other Monarch's Christmas/ New Years Addresses

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