“When my grand daddy was a hundred and one. He did the Nijmegen marches, just for fun. Your left, your left, your left, right, left. You do the Nijmegen marches, with your left, right, left.”
These are the sounds of songs heard as the CF Nijmegen team members across Canada prepare for the 95th International Four Day Nijmegen Marches (or Vierdaagse).
From July 19-22, a contingent of 190 CF personnel, led by Brigadier-General John C. Madower, will weave through the countryside and crowded streets of the Netherlands as they participate in the 4-day, 40 km per day march. The Nijmegen Marches are a rigorous and prestigious event that draws approximately 45 000 marchers from 50 countries, as well as over 1 million spectators .
The Marches were created in 1909 to increase the long-distance marching and weight-carrying ability of infantry soldiers.They have since evolved into the largest marching event in the world.The CF has participated in this demanding commitment since 1952.
The CF’s participation in the Marches represents a link to Canada’s significant past contributions to European peace and security, and also demonstrates our ongoing commitments in the present day. It also allows the Canadian Contingent members to demonstrate and perfect leadership, teamwork and fitness in a physically and mentally punishing environment.
“The CF traditionally excels in this event and represents Canada exceedingly well. Success is a result of tremendous preparation, both as individuals and as teams,” said BGen Madower. “Last year 88 percent of the Canadian Contingent were first-time marchers and 99 percent successfully completed this arduous event. Marching along the same terrain on which Canadians fought to help liberate the Netherlands makes us all proud to be Canadian.”
“Although steeped in history, this event continues to evolve,” said Regimental Sergeant-Major Keith Jones.
“This year, as part of our march, we are strengthening our community outreach and remembrance ceremonies.
In addition, we are fortunate to have CF members recovering from injuries with us because together we are stronger!” This year’s Canadian Contingent, sponsored by the Chief Military Personnel, also includes a number of visiting VIPs as well as a strong support cadre, consisting of a medical and band component, which are vital to Marches’ success.
Marching 160 km over four days may seem like a daunting task. For all Nijmegen marchers, however, success is achieved one step at a time.