Sunday, 16 May 2021

On the anniversary of VE Day, we are living history again

WHAT do you recall most about your childhood? Are there historical events that you particularly remember?

Remembering is such an important part of our lives, it is often tied up with our sense of belonging and of identity.

And remembering is what we are invited to do today as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, May 8, 1945: the day that marked the end of the war in Europe.

It is the day when gunfire was silenced and replaced by cheers, singing and dancing as people poured out on to the streets to celebrate the occasion. Some describe that day as the greatest date in history.

I wonder if the children who commemorated that first VE Day in 1945 — many of whom could remember nothing beyond six years of war — realised that they were living an historical moment as they helped their families to drag furniture into the street, hang bunting and sing We’ll Meet Again.

Seventy-five years later, on May 8, 2020, the great grandchildren of those wartime youngsters are being encouraged to commemorate this historical event.

With social distancing and cancelled street parties, there will still be bunting and doorstep singing of We’ll Meet Again. I wonder if today’s children will realise that they too are living an historical moment.

During the war years, leading up to May 8, 1945, many people drew together to remember, pray for and help one another: there were acts of bravery and sacrifice from those engaged on the front line; there was love and compassion as people mourned the loss of loved ones.

This year’s VE Day is not so very different. Despite social distancing, people have drawn together virtually to remember, to support one another. There have been acts of bravery and sacrifice from those engaged on the NHS frontline and there is love, compassion and prayer as we mourn the loss of much-loved people.

It is as if many of us are seeing this world with new eyes — a world where we look through the lens of love and remember one another; a world where, in a phrase originating from the Bible, people are prepared to go the extra mile; a world where we remember the deep love that God has for each one of us; a love that would stop at nothing, even death on a cross and that love encourages us to remember one another in prayer and in practicalities; a world where food banks and shopping for your neighbour means that
no one goes without.

And so, as we stand on our doorsteps tonight to remember that May 8, 1945 to sing We’ll Meet Again with added poignancy, let us not forget that we too are making history — our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will look back on the world we are making now.

May they be able say that, out of sadness and sorrow, a new world was built with God’s love at the centre. Where self-giving and concern for our neighbours was central, where those going through hard times were valued and cared for.

This time in history would then indeed be a time to be remembered by all who come after us.

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