Reprinted with permission from the Times Union
KINDERHOOK – A flag raising ceremony in the Village of Kinderhook Saturday concluded a series of events honoring the community’s newly adopted “sister city” in the Netherlands and commemorating the 8th US President Martin Van Buren.
Buren is a town in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands, and Jan de Boer, the mayor of Buren, and event planner Mark Hofman visited Kinderhook and the Capital Region from July 30 to August 4. Organizers planned dedications, trips to historic sites and other events for their visit, including a dedication of a “friendship” tree at Van Buren’s gravesite at the Dutch Reformed Church cemetery.
President Van Buren, a descendant of Dutch settlers and a Dutch speaker, was born and died in the Columbia County community. His third great-grandfather left Buren in 1631 and journeyed to New Netherland, which later became New York. “Van” means “from” or “of” in Dutch.
On Saturday morning, the Kinderhook and Buren leaders gathered for a raising of the Buren flag in Kinderhook’s Village Square, a symbol of the friendship between the communities.
“I’m always moved by the Dutch culture,” historian Ruth Piwonka said during the event. “It’s one I wish people knew more about.”
Village of Kinderhook Mayor James Dunham and Congressman John Faso (R- 19th) thanked Mr. de Boer and Mr. Hofman for visiting and gave them various gifts, including an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and a map of the village. Mr. Dunham said Kinderhook is working to establish a Dutch heritage week.
“We owe much to the Dutch,” Congressman Faso said. “Your visit here is something that the people of Kinderhook and the region will remember for a long time.”
The event marked the end of a “wonderful” and “overwhelming” week, Mr. de Boer said. The Dutch influence in the area is evident, he added, and he has extended an invitation to the people of Kinderhook to visit Buren next year.
“You can feel it,” he said, describing the Dutch culture in the community. “I hope they will come next year.”
To contact reporter Madison Iszler email