On Friday 8th May 2020, we mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day – the day the guns fell silent at the end of World War Two (WW2) in Europe. The 75th anniversary provides our nation, and our friends around the world, with an opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through this dark and terrifying period to secure peace, freedom and prosperity.
This day feels particularly emotional and poignant given the current crisis we are fighting on all fronts. There has been much likening of the wider impact of the current Coronavirus pandemic to the World Wars our forefathers faced, which have irrevocably changed our way of life, our freedoms, and our prosperity. I am very mindful of the extreme sacrifice and hardship faced by our previous generations, and the unimaginable scale of challenge and horror they had to overcome. It provides us all with hope that even the most severe crisis can be overcome by inspiration and endurance.
There are many obvious similarities and there are key lessons, and comfort, we should also take from the crisis.
Our fear of losing loved ones, and of protecting ourselves, our families and our communities The rising death toll is a stark and alarming reminder of the dangerous situation we all face and our need to follow public health guidance. A related fear is that we have lost the lives that we once knew. We now need transparency so we are able to learn for the future from the history we are living through.
The valiant efforts of our healthcare staff and key frontline workers.
Living in our current times, I am reminded of a Winston Churchill quote in reference to Battle of Britain victory, a turning point in WW2, ‘never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’ Overall victory in WW2 was secured by the sacrifice of many, many more, both military and on the home front – a monumental international response to tyranny. In our current battle with Coronavirus, our nation’s debt is to so very many who have held and are continuing to hold the line in a range of brave and selfless ways, despite all the risks and challenges they face. We must never forget their dedication and sacrifice.
People coming together for the good of our nation, and to support and care for each other.
We are witnessing an unprecedented outpouring of philanthropic activity, intention and attitude from all realms of society. This has been most publicly demonstrated by the valiant efforts of the 100-year-old veteran Captain Tom Moore who has raised over £32 million in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 appeal. This has inspired and captured the hearts of millions of people around the world; a veteran who continues to support his country in a way no one would have thought possible when we celebrated New Year 2020 only four short months ago. How the world has changed. A mere 95 years younger, five-year-old Murray decided to raise funds for KSS, who had saved his father’s life, by running a marathon over the course of five days raising, over £5,000, to date. Yet another hero amidst the battle. Many commercial organisations have also joined the fight against the pandemic, displaying innovation, determination and creativity in the creation and supply of valuable equipment and resources for the NHS and KSS.
The long road ahead.
After the VE Day parties in 1945, the rebuilding began, and the path back to normality and prosperity as well as the creation of a better and fairer society took a considerable period of time. In 1948 the NHS was born. We face a similar journey, regardless of when and how lockdown restrictions are eased. But where do we want this journey to take us? What lasting changes do we want to arise from the war we have fought?
Remember and honouring their sacrifice.
A fitting tribute to the sacrifices of those in WW2 so that we could live in freedom would be that we never forget the sacrifices made then and now and that we ensure our communities, our government, our nation and our world learn from the Coronavirus pandemic, learn from the mistakes that have been made and from what we have all been through and that we prepare now for the coming months. That we come together like never before to prevent and prepare for any future pandemic and to deliver the best possible healthcare for all both now and in the future.
We must all think and act differently; we must be kinder and more generous as a society and we must learn and trust that our government leads the way forward, transparently and collaboratively.
Let us all learn from this extraordinary time in our own history. The official VE Day message is:
“To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
To echo this, to those who are currently giving so much, we both thank and support you. While we celebrate what you do, we will never forget the sacrifice that you are making.
Lest we forget!
David Welch – Chief Executive
Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex