Dutch flag half-staff outside house

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In the Netherlands, the tradition of orange and red-white-blue flags adorning the streets often coincides with national celebrations, particularly King’s Day. Orange holds significant cultural significance in the country as it’s the color of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.

Lowering the flag to half-staff is a way to express sympathy and honor

Flags in the Netherlands are typically flown at half-staff (half-mast) as a sign of mourning or respect. There are several reasons why the Dutch might lower their flags in this manner:

  1. National Mourning: Flags are lowered to half-staff in the event of a national tragedy, such as the death of a member of the Dutch royal family, a significant political figure, or a national disaster.
  2. International Mourning: Flags can be lowered in solidarity with other countries experiencing a tragedy or loss. For example, after major disasters or terrorist attacks in other countries, the Dutch may lower their flags as a sign of respect.
  3. Remembrance Days: The Netherlands observes several national days of remembrance, such as Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) on May 4th, which commemorates those who died during World War II, and National Memorial Day on the second Saturday in November, which commemorates all Dutch military personnel who have died in conflicts or peacekeeping missions since World War II. Flags are often flown at half-staff on these occasions.
  4. State Funerals: During state funerals or official ceremonies honoring notable figures, flags are lowered as a mark of respect.
  5. Tragedies or Losses: Flags might also be lowered in response to specific tragedies or losses that deeply affect the Dutch nation, such as mass casualties in accidents, acts of terrorism, or natural disasters.

In all cases, lowering the flag to half-staff is a visible and solemn gesture to acknowledge loss, reflect on tragedy, and show solidarity with those affected. It’s a way for the Dutch people to express their sympathy and honor the memory of those who have passed away.

Freedom cannot be taken for granted

In addition to the commemoration on May 4, we celebrate Liberation Day on May 5, the day on which the Netherlands was liberated from the German occupation in 1945. This is a festive day on which we celebrate that we can live in freedom.

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