In Honor of Veterans Day…

In Honor of Veterans Day…

Today is Veterans Day in the United States, a day to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans Day is observed Nov. 11. each year to mark the anniversary of the end of World War I — major hostilities in that conflict were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.

Veterans Day coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world. The United States originally observed Armistice Day; it evolved into the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954.

Nieuw Amsterdam II steamed a total of 530,452 miles as a troop ship in WWII.

Nieuw Amsterdam II steamed a total of 530,452 miles as a troop ship in WWII.

Holland America Line has a proud history of sacrifice during both world wars. The company lost six ships and 13 employees during World War I. Notably, Statendam II was taken over in its Belfast building dock by the British for use as the troopship Justicia, which was torpedoed and sunk in 1918. Holland America Line resumed regular operations after the war with 10 ships.

Less than a year after the christening of ss Nieuw Amsterdam II in 1938, World War II broke out. During the war, many ocean liners – including the s.s. Nieuw Amsterdam II – were commandeered by the U.S. State Department and the Foreign Allied Forces and used as troop ships, shuttling soldiers between the United States and battlefields around the world.

At the start of World War II, Holland America Line had 25 ships; only nine remained at the end of war, and 264 employees lost their lives. Nieuw Amsterdam sailed more than half a million miles during the war, transporting 400,000 military personnel.

The War Memorial in Rotterdam. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The War Memorial in Rotterdam. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

In Rotterdam, the Netherlands, there is monument for those 264 employees who lost their lives. This monument is located near the pier where the ss Rotterdam is docked. Each year on May 4, Memorial Day in the Netherlands, Holland America Line’s Director of Human Resources Europe Rob Leijen participates in a wreath laying ceremony on behalf of the company.

To the veterans and active-duty military, we offer our gratitude and thanks.


Join the Discussion


  1. Rob Leijen November 11, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    what I miss in this article is the mention of the monument in Rotterdam for those 264 employees who lost their lives. This monument is located near the pier where our former ss Rotterdam is docked. Each year n May 4, memorial day in the Netherlands, I participate in a wreath laying ceremony on behalf of HAL

    Rob Leijen
    Director HR Europe

  2. Joyce Alfino November 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    As a retired Viet Nam U.S. Army Nurse, I thank you for your support. The Memorial in Rotterdam is most appreciated. It takes many professions to complete a mision!

  3. Marilyn May 2, 2021 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    In August 1945 on the MS Delftdyk my mother, sister and I sailed from Southhampton to New York. It was (we were told) the ship and crew’s last voyage before returning home to be decommissioned. The crew, missing their own families they hadnt seen for many years , were lovely to me especially as a seven year old, and very indulgent. Every day at breakfast I was presented with a new animal made entirely from vegetables, many of them unknown to a Scottish child from rationed and war-deprived Britain. My sister and I were aghast to see the ship’s puppy “Lucky” thrown oranges to play with like a ball. We had never held an orange, let alone eaten one!

    One day the engines were switched off and we children were forbidden to run and play on deck. The war was over but still mines were in the sea. We drifted in silence, flat calm and sunshine while dolphins played all around the ship, until the captain announced that the mine had floated out of range and we could continue.
    The few passengers assembled daily at the Captain’s noticeboard, normally a sociable place where passengers met and talked. I posted about my lost yellow crayon – a treasured and irreplaceable posession in 1945. That day the second atomic bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki. The notice was read by all in stunned gravity, no jubilation or triumphalism from anyone, just shock and horror. My mother hurried us away.

    We arrived in New York the day before VJ Day which we experienced in Times Square.

    Holland-America’s Delftdyke has remained for 75 years a very special memory. I would love to know how she fared and that her beautiful brave crew fared well too and enjoyed the best of lives.


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