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Last week, I wrote about Florence Nightingale in advance of her 200th birthday next week. Tina organized a book club with her shelter-in-place partner. They read The Witch Elm by Tana French and even came up with a cast if it were made into a movie. Nan wrote about Midsomer Murders and how long it took for her to enjoy the series. Jean enjoyed the fun and frolic of Coronation Summer.
Seventy-five years ago today, on May 8, 1945, the world celebrated VE Day, the day that World War II was won by the Allies in Europe, Victory in Europe.
One of the most memorable scenes in my mind of VE Day comes from a book — All Clear by Connie Willis. When I first remembered that we would be celebrating a big anniversary this year, I looked to find a picture of the conga line in Trafalgar Square. It turns out there’s film footage. And, the crowds weren’t just in the square — they seem to be all over London. Plus, there’s some silent color footage near the end that appears to show what the celebration looked like in villages.
Of course, there were supposed to be grand celebrations for the 75th anniversary. They have been cancelled or altered due to social distancing measures required to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A year ago, the British announced that the May bank holiday (usually a Monday) was moved to today so that VE Day and the holiday would coincide. This was also done 25 years ago for the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
English Heritage had planned to support street parties throughout England. Instead, they repackaged their material and created the VE Day at Home pack, with recipes, a poster, song lyrics to go with a Spotify playlist, and instructions for the Lindy Hop swing dance.
The BBC One TV channel will host a series of VE Day programs this afternoon and evening, including a moment at 9:00pm when everyone will be invited to a UK-wide sing along of Vera Lynn’s rendition of “We’ll Meet Again.” The double meaning of the lyrics for that time and our time made me cry.
Here’s another version that Dame Vera Lynn released on her YouTube channel in March for her 103rd birthday:
Will you be celebrating VE day today? I have one recommendation. PBS broadcasted The Queen at War this week, about Queen Elizabeth’s experience of World War II. It’s available to stream, for free, until June 2. I didn’t learn a lot, but I enjoyed film footage and photos that were new to me.