With the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day approaching, it feels pertinent to consider what lessons have we learned from the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom, as well as those who stayed behind to rebuild Europe?
The lesson I have learned sounds simple, but, goes much deeper than just these words: give thanks and show gratitude through your actions. Be grateful to those who fought, in some cases giving their lives, for the liberty of others and demonstrate that through acting in such a way as to repay the debt.
Which brings my thinking in line with these exceptional times the planet finds itself combating through.
Whilst I interpret the current Covid-19 pandemic as causing turbulence similar to that which surrounded World War II, I initially felt uncomfortable airing that observation. That was until I read about the upcoming VE Day celebrations on the British Legion website; “There are many parallels between the struggles of the Second World War and what we are going through today. We look to our Second World War generation to learn from their experiences, and we continue our work to protect them from the threat we currently face.”
On this day (29th April) in 1945, the RAF initiated Operation Manna. Pilots flew beneath 400ft to drop humanitarian food packages to the people of the Netherlands after their supplies were cut by the Nazis. Replicated by the Americans days later (Operation Chowhound), the two campaigns resulted in the saviour of some 3.5 million civilians from starvation. Fast forward 75 years, we are seeing our armed forces provide essential supplies around the UK to those in need. Armies sent soldiers into combat during World War II, as key workers battle on the front line today.
World War II soldiers fought tirelessly on the front line for 6 years and were hailed, rightly so, as heroes. That word is used so much today, from describing a friend who delivers a coffee to your desk just as you were falling asleep, to a surgeon who conducts ground-breaking, life-saving surgery. Alas, I still believe when used correctly, it to be the highest compliment. Just as we hail the heroes who demonstrated such bravery when going over the top of the trenches, our NHS and other health care professionals deserve that same honour now.
Currently, the World Health Organization reports the death toll from Covid-19 at 204, 987 people (WHO, 29 April 01:00 BST). There will always be fatalities from war, as there will certainly continue to be from this pandemic. If our actions do not meet the guidelines set for our own protection, then it is a very poor way to repay our nation’s heroes. We should show our gratitude to our health care staff but staying at home and protecting one another. That is how to join this war effort.
Words from the British Legion: As we face some of the most challenging times since the end of the Second World War, now more than ever it is important to unite in recognition of service to the nation, just as communities did 75 years ago. For further information, read the Government press release outlining the plans for VE Day celebrations.
I will be clapping on Thursday evenings at 20:00 for our heroic NHS and health care workers and I will raise a toast at 15:00 on Friday 8th May for the heroes of World War II.
To those who gave so much and today are giving so much, we thank you.
Stay safe, stay well.