One Sunny Day
On the 7th May 1945, General Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of German forces, which was to take effect from 8th May 1945 at 11:01 p.m. After six years the Nazi army was defeated and the war in Europe was finally over.
The jubilation that deservedly followed united countries, counties, towns, and streets. The outpouring of national relief and joy translated into street parties and community picnics. Music played, people danced and sang as we came together and celebrated Europe’s victory, our survival and acknowledged sacrifice and bravery of the millions of lives lost.
On May 7th, 2020, as the 75th anniversary of VE Day approaches it will be met with a renewed sense of understanding from many. This year more so than any other year I feel such significant synchronicities with the happenings of 1945. It has been said by our Government and many that the COVID-19 Pandemic with its effect on daily life, loss of life and impact on life is one of if not the biggest challenge we have seen as a country since WW2. Whilst our wartime generation endured much more hardship, many more losses of life and faced a physical enemy, we also as a generation face an enemy (albeit an invisible one) that is threatening our freedoms and taking away our loved ones.
I am certainly not trying to compare apples for apples here or am I trivializing the dark days of war however there are absolutely some parallels that can be derived from where we are today to those days building up to VE Day in 1945. These parallels in both the challenges we face and in the way we have responded.
As I sit today, with my children eating breakfast, at home – safe yet somewhat despondent, I take comfort from reading more about VE Day. Knowing that whilst we will not have a VE Day as such, there will be a change, a lessening of our restrictive bounds, a lower death rate announced today than yesterday, a slow but steady move towards our victory against the virus.
In 1945 surrender did not come as a surprise to people, news of the gains we were making was communicated, people had sight of the end of the tunnel, the light peeking through and they were almost on standby for an announcement of confirmation. Much like we sit today, awaiting Sunday’s announcement. All of us eager to understand when we will be able to see our families, reopen some of our businesses, regain some of our freedoms back – whilst we know our COVID Tunnel still has some length to travel, and that our gains will be gradual we also know the distance to our VE day is getting shorter.
Tomorrow there is an itinerary of song and celebration, a virtual coming together of the nation that I hope will bring some comfort and hope to many. Tonight, we will clap, drum, sing and cheer on our doorsteps, shoulder to shoulder (obviously at a 2m distance) with our neighbours and we will acknowledge as we do every Thursday the service of those on the front line. One thing that has not changed from the wartime years is that when things get tough our community spirit shines through, a very poignant reminder of how even in distance we are not alone.
On the eve of VE Day, many lit bonfires, hung bunting and our community pubs were full of revellers. It is said that on VE Day itself, the pubs ran dry. Today, as the doors of our nation’s pubs are still firmly shut, we look forward to the part they will play in the reconnecting of communities, the celebrations they will host and the booming businesses they will once again become. Whilst this national holiday will not be celebrated in a pub, we know that the time frame of when a national holiday can be celebrated at the pub is edging closer. We know we will meet again and let us hope… it is a very sunny day.