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Jul 21 2021

Belgium's National Day

Belgian National Day is a public holiday celebrated on July 21 each year. In 1830, Belgium gained political independence and regained cultural independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.   Up until then, the Belgian area was known as the Southern Netherlands and had been governed by other countries including Spain and France.

Meet Inspector Bernard P from the SHAPE Federal Police (pictured below). We asked him and his colleague Inspector Verschueren L a few questions about their country and about Belgian National Day.

Read their answers below:



Inspector Bernard P

SHAPE Federal Police

1. What do you miss most about home?

We are Belgian civilians and as a members of the federal police force, our free moments depend most of the time on work.

We work in different shifts (mornings, afternoons and nights) also during the weekends or national holidays (Christmas, Belgian National Day, New Year…)

Sometimes as a part of a reserve list, we can be called to be on duty even on the same day, it is not that easy to enjoy home and family when you are a police officer.

2. What have you found rewarding about working in such a multinational environment as SHAPE?

We've worked at SHAPE for many years and find it a very enriching place to work.

To meet and to work with multinational military or civilian people is such a great and unique experience. We've met a lot of people from all over the world, we both have still good contacts after they are back home. We fully feel part of this small community, it is sometimes easier for as a police officer to find a solution when you know whom you have to reach or contact. In most NATO countries, we know and are very happy to have a good friend who is waiting for a chance to pay them a visit.

3. What is something unique about Belgium that others might not know?

We are a small country but with a huge heart and a unique lifestyle, our national moto is "United we stand" we are strong together in the good and the bad moments e.g. the floods we went through last week that made several victims. Help and solidarity for the flood victims started in all the parts of Belgium.

We also have three different languages, French and Dutch are national languages and near the Germany border, a small community speaks German.

We are located in the centre of Europe and it is very easy to travel by car and visit other countries around us.

The SHAPE community is aware and most of them – while here in mission – visit sometimes more countries or cities than locals.

4. During normal non COVID times how would you usually celebrate this national day?

If not on duty or on the reserve list, we like to go with our families in our local parks where every year, there are a lot of activities for the National Day such as live music, carnival games for the kids, local merchants, brewers, foods…

It's a special day when we can gather with some friends and spend the whole day together and wait until the night for the fireworks.

You can meet a lot of people you know, or you don't know like new neighbours, newcomers, new local merchants…. Often we run into a lot of "Shapians" too, they like to be part of the community.

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