Act of Mercy

Reading the local newspaper, the Times Union, last week, I came across a fascinating series of articles by Paul Grondahl, a long-time feature writer for the paper. The articles introduced me to a yearly event in one of Albany’s sister cities—Nijmegen, Netherlands. Nijmegen became one of Albany’s sister cities shortly after World War II due to an act of mercy that Albany, NY, bestowed on the people of the city of Nijmegen which was horribly ravaged during World War II by German troops. After the United States 82nd Airborne Division and other Allied forces freed Nijmegen from German occupation in the autumn of 1944, the people of Albany, NY, donated about 300 tons of humanitarian supplies, including over 20,000 pairs of shoes and boots, which were shipped to the Dutch city in the summer of 1947.

In thanks to Albany, Nijmegen sent several thousand tulip bulbs which were planted in Washington Park leading to the first Albany Tulip Festival in 1948! Of course, Albany’s Dutch roots go back much further to the Dutch settlers who came here after Henry Hudson claimed the area for the Netherlands in 1609.

This year, as almost every year since 1909, our sister city Nijmegen has hosted what is called the Four Days Marches or Walk of the World (Nijmeegse Vierdaagse in Dutch) with well over 40,000 people from many countries participating.

Here are some terrific images and videos from Paul Grondahl’s Twitter account of his visit to the walk this July.  This huge event was unfamiliar to me but will now be added to my bucket list. Check out a description of the event (which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year) and a great short video of this year’s walk.

Well, our sister city, an act of mercy that connected Nijmegen and Albany, and the Sisters of Mercy whose humanitarian works extend from Maria College here in Albany to far-away countries of the world are certainly intertwined in powerful ways.

Until next time…

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