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.
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.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.