This Friday is VE Day – marking the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Allies and the end of the war in Europe.
Large scale events were planned to mark this momentous date – there were to have been three days of celebrations in London including a procession of war veterans down the Mall, as well as thousands of street parties, concerts, festivals and commemorative church services across Europe. We were going to hold a street party of our own.
All have now been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
But that won’t stop people across the country marking VE Day and remembering, in their own way, the incredible sacrifices made by so many. The Queen will still address the nation and there is a planned UK-wide singalong of that Vera Lynn wartime anthem ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
It is a song which the Queen has already referenced in her previous address to the nation in the early days of the lockdown, and it has a particular resonance at this time when, while we must keep apart to protect ourselves and others, we know we will meet again.
The Queen is not alone in referencing the wartime spirit of the British people, looking back to that time when the nation was in peril and drew together to combat a devastating threat – the echoes in our situation today are evident.
Here at Westacre, we have been reflecting on the qualities and actions of that generation – members of which we are privileged to have as residents here – which enabled them to endure and overcome the worst of times. There is a great deal we can all learn and take from that celebrated spirit of the Blitz…
We can’t visit them, but we can still check in on our friends and family – make a phone call, drop in a note, or contact them via email or video call – especially those you know who are elderly or isolated. Asking for help can be hard – but by offering, and offering again, you can make sure they aren’t alone and struggling in silence.
While we are far from wartime rationing, the empty shelves we saw at the beginning of the lockdown, and even now, are a powerful reminder of what happens when we take more than our fair share. Being a responsible shopper is one way we can take care of our community as well as ourselves.
The instruction is that we shop for essential items only – so we are all learning to make do with what we have at home and even fixing up things when they get broken. Without recourse to many tradesmen during lockdown many of us are polishing up our DIY skills as well.
We aren’t listening out for air raid sirens but we must all be alert for the warning signs of this crisis – symptoms of coronavirus such as a persistent cough or fever.
We must stick together through this – even if that means keeping apart. The more we adhere to the direction to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, the better off we’ll all be collectively.
Using these characteristics that many of our residents would have learned during the Second World War, we can help ourselves and others overcome this difficult period.