King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited Frederik Meijer Gardens and the Medical Mile in Grand Rapids on June 2, marking the third time in history that Dutch royalty stepped foot in Michigan.
The occasion, which served as an opportunity for Michigan and the Netherlands to express gratitude for their strong economic ties and trade relations, and to continue this cooperation, also proved special in another way.
As part of the day’s festivities, the King and Queen were introduced to Diet Eman, a 95-year old resident of Grand Rapids, and a leading member of the Dutch Resistance in WWII. I had the great honor of accompanying Diet during the day’s events, which included a presentation of a ballet about her life, “It Is Well,” performed by Turning Pointe School of Dance.
At age 95, Diet possesses a unique amount of energy and grace, which is coupled with an equally unique history of courage and sacrifice. As a 20-year old bank teller living in the Netherlands during WWII, she and a group of ordinary Dutch citizens sought to protect Jews during the Nazi’s occupation of the country.