CORNHILL SOCIAL HISTORY PROJECT
2020 VE Day 8th May 1945 - 75th anniversaryMay 8th 2020 was to have been a celebration to remember the end of the war in Europe 75 year ago. We had planned an indoor street-party, a thanksgiving service and pipers or buglers at the war memorials. Sadly, however, because of the coronavirus pandemic, every formal function was cancelled, but the nation still celebrated.
An extract from a passage written by The Rev. Canon John Carr, priest responsible for Branxton, Carham and Cornhill:
For those of us who have not lived through conflict there seem to be many parallels between our present situation and that of the war years. We face an existential threat, we see no clear way out, we feel powerless, anxious and fearful. And yet we must be careful not to over-emphasise those parallels.
Covid-19 is an enemy to all of us, irrespective of nationality or race. We are not in an ideological conflict between two opposing world views. Covid-19 demands a global response, wherein all nations are “on the same side” and can fight with the same weapons, whether they be scientific ones of testing, treatment and vaccine or social ones of distancing and isolation. And in that, there are strong parallels. The war at home, making do and mend, the land army, protection for the bombed-out, all point towards a common bond of humanity that is more powerful than the unseen enemy that confronts us today.
It is right to give thanks for the sacrifice of those in the forces, and on the home front, from all those years ago, and to recognise the efforts of many down the decades since then and even today who stand up for what is right. I take enormous encouragement from seeing the contribution that our troops are able to make to dealing with the pandemic today, and we should give thanks for them, as we rightly do for health and other key workers.
And we should also look forward. I’m sure that, through the war, many took heart and took hope from the expectation that the conflict would not last for ever, and that there would indeed be “bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover”. So today, many look for signs of the end of the pandemic and hope for better times to return.
The great wave of joy and thanksgiving at the end of the war brought a great wave of optimism for those better times. They may not always have been realised, but in Europe we have largely had a time of peace. No doubt at some time in the future there will be a great wave of joy and thanksgiving at the end of the pandemic. I hope and pray that this will be accompanied by a determination to build a better, safer world where all can thrive, with no-one and nothing to make us afraid.
We may not be able to gather together as those crowds did 75 years ago, but we are being encouraged to hold 2 minutes silence at 11am and to drink a toast at 3pm: “to those who gave so much, we thank you”