VE Day 8.5.20
The May Bank Holiday has only been moved once before, when it was shifted from 1 May to 8 May 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
This year it has been moved again to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the planned events will not take place; but may be moved to 15–16 August, when we celebrate VJ Day, that commemorates the surrender of Imperial Japan during World War II.
Apart from street parties and pubs staying open until 11pm, there was to have been a display by the Red Arrows and a Battle of Britain memorial flight over Buckingham Palace; with Winston Churchill’s speech broadcasted all over the country at 3pm.
Tuesday 8 May 1945 was ‘Victory in Europe’ (VE) Day, and it marked the formal end of Hitler’s war, who had committed suicide on 30 April 1945.
With it came the end of six years of misery, suffering, courage and endurance across the world.
The final document of unconditional surrender was signed at General Dwight Eisenhower’s headquarters in Reims on 7 May. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and King George VI wanted Monday 7 May to be VE Day, but in the event, bowing to American wishes, victory was celebrated on 8 May. The USSR waited an extra day before beginning their formal celebrations.
Upon first entering the House of Commons as the Prime Minister, Churchill gave a speech rallying the country to war against Nazi Germany. Delivered on May 13, 1940, the speech was a call-to-arms aimed at uniting the British public against the threat of the Nazis Germany.
In the final part of his speech Churchill said, “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”
In much of Britain, VE Day was marked by street parties. The people of Britain badly needed to let their hair down. The country was war-weary by May 1945. There had been years of austerity and rationing: five inches of water to a bath, few eggs, no bananas and the motto ‘make do and mend’.
Half a million homes had been destroyed, and many millions of lives disrupted. Although the casualty lists from the battlefields were lower than in World War I, they were still terrible. When in 1944 the primitive V1 ‘doodlebug’ missiles and V2 ballistic missiles began to rain down on South-East England, the morale of civilians who had already endured the Blitz of 1940–1 took a knock.
People were already on the streets celebrating on 7 May, and huge crowds gathered in London on the following day. At 3.00pm Churchill made a radio broadcast. In Trafalgar Square, an eye-witness noted, ‘…there was an extraordinary hush over the assembled multitude’, as Churchill’s voice was relayed over loudspeakers.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth appeared eight times on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, while the two princesses — Margaret and Elizabeth (our present Queen) — mingled with the crowds. Churchill gave an impromptu speech on the balcony of the Ministry of Health, telling the crowds, ‘This is your victory.’
There is a well-known passage, which is often quoted at funerals, taken from the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, which says,
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
[1 Cor 15v54–56]
On an historical note, Harry S Truman followed after President Roosevelt. In fact Roosevelt had died in April 1945 and didn’t see the total victory, which he had striven so hard for.
I came across this insightful quote by Harry S Truman, “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves. Self discipline with all of them came first”.
So the Thought for Today is although there have been victories in wars and conflicts, we too can know victory as we allow God into our life.