By John Dunkelgrün
There is something special about the relationship between The Netherlands and The United States of America. Not only were The Netherlands – or rather was the Dutch Republic – the second nation to recognize the United States of America (France was first, but even before France there was independent recognition by the City of Amsterdam and the Province of Friesland), but at least three Presidents can trace their ancestry to this country as do many other politicians, scientists and artists. The first Embassy building the young republic owned was a building in The Hague, the Hôtel des Etats Unis, on the Fluwelen Burgwal. Also, the famed Pilgrim Fathers lived in Leiden for eleven years before leaving for America from the port of Delfshaven near Rotterdam.
There have been 232 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations between the two countries. In 1982, at the bicentennial of Dutch-American relations, this was recognized in a resolution by both the Senate and Congress who designated the 19th of April as Dutch American Friendship Day. This was an initiative of O.A.R. (Overseas Americans Remember) with the indefatigable Roberta Enschede, who also started the Presidents Breakfasts in the Kurhaus on election nights, and the Martin Luther King commemorations. To celebrate this special day Ambassador Broas hosted a lively reception for the Dutch American Friendship Society at his residence. There Roberta Enschede and Jessie Rodell read excerpts from letters by John Adams, the first American ambassador to the Dutch Republic. Then, speaking in front of a painting of John Adams, Ambassador Broas commemorated the many things that bind the two countries and the love for the Dutch that was so clear in the letters, both private and official, that Adams sent home. The reception was attended by several surviving veterans of the Prinses Irene Brigade, the corps of Free Dutch who fought with the Allies in WWII, by mayor Jozias Van Aartsen and USA expert Willem Post.