The retired career soldier has adopted two graves.
“I had registered for an adoptive grave at the American military cemetery in Margraten. But I was told that I would have to wait three years at a minimum. That is when I began looking around for adoptive graves in my own region and ended up on the site of the Soviet Military Cemetery in Leusden.
I began to study these Soviet warriors and bought Remco’s book (Kind van het Ereveld). The story really appealed to me and I thought why not adopt the grave of a Soviet soldier? Eventually I adopted the graves of Alexei Shipilin and Alexei Kotenok. As an adopter I am very proud of that.”
As a former professional soldier with the Koninklijke Marechaussee (Gendarmerie) Ron felt a kind of bond with the Soviet soldiers.
“I have been deployed twice, to Lebanon and the Sinai. From that experience I learned what it’s like to protect the liberty of fellow human beings as a soldier. Both times there was little regard for what we had gone through on our return.
I believe that veterans are quickly forgotten in The Netherlands. In other countries they are held in higher esteem. Partly because of this I have adopted the graves. I think that those who fought for our freedom or that of others should never be forgotten. When I visit the Military Cemetery as a former soldier I feel some kind of connection with these boys.
I visit the cemetery at least once a month and lay a flower on their grave. I even went there with my granddaughter (see photo). Fortunately she does not yet understand what it’s all about, but when I see her laying a flower on the graves of my boys it gives me goose bumps.
I hope that later in life I can tell her what these boys went through, so that she takes over from me and these Soviet soldiers will never be forgotten.”