Tomorrow, we have a bank holiday to commemorate VE Day; the end of World War 2 in Europe. It was always going to be a day of reflection but also of street parties and celebrations as there were on May 8th 1945.
Things have however, changed in our world too and we are all experiencing concerns which may give us more empathy and some understanding with the events of 75 years ago.
During World War 2, family members went off to war and some did not come back. Some 330,00 UK service people lost their lives doing their job. We have experienced something of this hearing the devastating stories of key workers who have died after contracting coronavirus. No-one can, or ever should compare loss. However a loved one dies, it is heartbreaking for their family and friends. The similarity lies in people going to work knowing they are putting their life potentially at risk. It requires courage and bravery. It did in the Second World War and it does now. So when we consider the six years of war, and the six years hearing about the terrible losses as a result of war, we have glimpse, but only a glimpse of what that might have felt like and we can understand the relief that this part of the war was over so that this loss would end. If we were to know that no-one else would die from coronavirus we would feel jubilation, but still intense sadness for those who had passed.
We have lived with the burden and fear of coronavirus for a matter of months. They have been tough months – much tougher for some than others, but it is still unimaginable what the relief must have felt like after 6 years and so much loss. I think we would all be dancing in the streets as the old cine film and pictures we are being shown on the TV indicate. I think in the faces of people you see not so much joy, but pure relief that this was not going on any longer and in August 1945 when the whole war ended the relief must have been enormous.
A lot has been said in recent weeks about food shortages. We have, at times, struggled to get pasta and flour but I am not sure we can begin to compare this to rationing which in May 1945 had some time to continue. I have heard my mother, who was a child in the war, talk about the excitement of the first banana and the joy of sweets and chocolate or a real egg, not egg powder. To most people in our country today, that is still difficult to comprehend although sadly those people using food banks could no doubt relate.
One thing that is so different today is communication. When people were away from their family in 1945 they could perhaps write letters, so for weeks and sometimes months people did not know their loved ones were safe. The old adage applied no news is good news. Today, many of us cannot be with our family but we know they are OK because we can see them. We cannot touch them, but through the marvels of modern technology we can have a conversation and look them in the eye. In this regard we are so so lucky.
So this weekend the parties may be more distanced and the celebrations not quite what we were hoping for, but we should remember the sacrifices made to keep us safe, the sadness of the loss to do this and the joy that something so terrible and so hard was ending. On behalf of the partners and staff of Jacksons, we want to say thank you to everyone who gave so much for our future in the second world war, that we admire your courage and bravery and that we will forever be grateful. And to the key workers working so hard now to keep us safe we admire your courage and bravery and we will be forever grateful to you too.