American D-Day flag at Kunsthal

February 5, 2019


5 to 17 February 2019
From Tuesday, February 5, the first American D-Day flag will be exhibited in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, a city where the war has left indelible traces. The presentation of ‘D-Day Flag 75 Years. A Symbol of Freedom’ is a prelude to the celebration of 75 years of liberation. The story behind this battered and stained flag is one of many within the greater story of the Second World War. A story about freedom, which is told through a unique and tangible object. On Monday, February 4, the flag was received with military ceremony in the presence of Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten and the American Ambassador Pete Hoekstra.

Opening ceremony

Monday, February 4, at 14.00 hrs
On Monday, February 4, at 14:00 hrs the flag arrived with a small column of military vehicles at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. After a military ceremony and speeches by Minister Bijleveld and Ambassador Hoekstra, and a personal speech by collector Bert Kreuk, the flag was handed to Emily Ansenk, director of Kunsthal Rotterdam.

The D-Day flag

The 48-star American flag was flown from the stern of US Navy vessel LCC 60. On the 6th of June 1944, the day that would go down in history as D-Day, this ship lead the invasion fleet and the first American troops to Utah Beach. The guide boat was the first to reach the coast of Normandy, where the Normandy landings would pave the way for the liberation of Western Europe. The commander of the first landing craft was Lieutenant Howard Vander Beek, whose father was born in Holland. Vander Beek took the flag and carried it in his backpack as a lucky charm for the rest of the war. Once at home, he kept the flag in a chest in his basement. After his death in 2014, the battered flag is offered up for auction and acquired by an art collector from Rotterdam, who lost family during the bombing of the city in 1940. It is the first time ever that the D-Day flag will be on display in Rotterdam.

The Ministry of Defence supports the relocation of the flag from the National Military Museum to the Kunsthal Rotterdam, and with this expresses gratitude for the sacrifices made for our freedom.