Today marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe. And at 11am, all across the country, the nation will pause in solemn reflection. Remembering the sacrificies made by everyone who, through all the difficulties of war, came together in a monumental fight.
It is hard to contemplate what life will have been like at that time. The feeling that people will have had on this day, 75 years ago, when tables spread with rations were brought out of houses to allow men, women and children to mark the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and the end of the what had been a terrible 6 years of conflict. There will be some who remember the celebrations in Burnley and Padiham well. Tables and chairs lining the streets and a sense of happiness that the war was over but also a thought for what the future might bring and all the rebuilding that was to come.
As we all celebrate this milestone, we find ourselves with a new challenge which is no less great in magnitude and requires the same resolve to defeat. The community spirit that saw us through the Second World War will also see us through this period. And the national effort to get back on our feet will be needed once more.
Burnley is no stranger to the resolve that is needed and this week I was able to speak to a Second World War veteran, helping him aquire the medal issued to him for service in the Royal Navy’s Arctic Convoy’s – protecting essential supplies. He, along with many of his generation, is who we honour today. And I was also pleased to send a letter to the person who holds the local accolade for first baby in peacetime in Burnley, who today celebrates her 75th birthday. Proof that no matter the adversity our country will emerge and life will continue.
So whilst our celebrations cannot take place as we all anticipated, an enormous amount of work has gone into making plans for what we can do. These include our 2 minutes silence at 11am, a doorstep sing-a-long of Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again at 9pm and a wealth of material on the VE Day website on how to host a 1945 themed party with traditional recipes. I would encourage everyone to join in with these, not only remembering the sacrifices made but also the adversity overcome.