Mr. Stoltenberg joined hundreds of international dignitaries, including Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld in paying tribute to those who took part in the operation in 1944.
Speaking after the ceremony the Secretary General said, «We stand together in remembrance of all the lives lost in World War II, and we pay tribute to all those who serve. We should never take peace for granted.” He added, “I am proud to lead an organization that has helped secure peace and prosperity in Europe for seven decades. Today, countries who were once enemies work together – side by side – as Allies at NATO”.
Wreaths were laid, a minute’s silence was held and more than 1,000 allied paratroopers jumped from aircraft above the memorial ground in a show of respect to those who helped free Europe from oppression. The Secretary General also met with veterans who had participated in the mission, stressing that “the commemoration of Operation Market Garden is a powerful reminder that the enduring bond between Europe & North America remains vital to secure peace.» About 35,000 Allied airborne soldiers participated in Market Garden, one of the largest airborne operations in history.