People all over the world are preparing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day on Friday 8th May. Every year, we mark the end of the conflict in Europe in 1945, as the Second World War drew to a close. The event remembers the Allies' formal acceptance of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender on Tuesday 8th May 1945.
When Germany was defeated, celebrations erupted throughout the western world. In Britain, crowds gathered in the streets to party.
Marking the end of six long years of war, austerity, and tragedy, VE Day celebrations took place in the streets and in Trafalgar Square elated crowds hugged, danced, and sang patriotic songs, while revelers partied by jumping into fountains and climbing monuments in a huge outpouring of emotions. Although the war in Japan continued until 15th August 1945, for thousands of people, VE Day was the light at the end of the tunnel. Led by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Britain had survived some of the darkest days in history.
People in the United States also celebrate VE Day and the part the American Armed Forces played in the Allied victory.
While VE Day celebrations have taken place every year since the end of the war, the 75th anniversary is something everyone has been looking forward to. Friday 8th May was made a public holiday and the plan was to enjoy a multitude of activities, including street parties. However, unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have put a stop to the planned gatherings. Instead, the Royal British Legion is calling on people to mark the 75th anniversary from home.
A statement from the charity said the nation would be paying tribute to the "service and sacrifice" made by the entire second world war generation including British, Allied, and Commonwealth Forces and those who served on the home front. In light of the current emergency situation, the RBL said it was particularly important to "unite in recognition of service to the nation, just as communities did 75 years ago".
Among the planned virtual events for 8th May are a VE Day 75 live stream, a UK-wide singalong to Dame Vera Lynn's famous wartime song, We'll Meet Again, at 9 pm and a two-minute silence at 11 am.
While the two-minute silence is being held to remember all those who lost their lives, from all sides, in the conflict, the RBL is also urging people to use it as a time for reflection on the impact that COVID-19 has had on people across the world.