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We’ll meet again

Although it’s a Bank Holiday and one which marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day – Victory in Europe – it’s stating the obvious to say that this is different. It’s quieter, more subdued – just look at those fabulous street parties of 1945 and it makes you wish for that spirit of release, freedom.

In other ways, there are parallels to be drawn – as always.

What the country marks today is the courage in the face of uncertainty – as much as adversity. Those young soldiers in World War 2, who we see now frozen in time, knew far less of the world than we do now. They responded to duty because there was little choice – but they and those left at home did so in a way which mostly brought out the best in everyone.

Those left at home, isolated, lonely and suffering the strain of separation found ways to look out for each other; making ends meet; helping each other out in neighbourhoods which had little enough to share.

Those with hidden leadership emerged blinking into the dust and confusion – and learned to drive an ambulance, provide emergency aid, manufacture new products to support the national effort, to dig for victory and to help others manage day by day until life finally returned to a new normality.

A Dad’s Army that included Mums and Grans and Aunties and Uncles too.

And what is remembered today above all is the courage which so many otherwise unremarkable individuals showed – and their tough, affectionate cameraderie with other servicemen and women serving their country.

There are echoes reaching down the years to 2020 – not just of Vera Lynn’s stirring musicality, wonderful though that is to hear again – but of the awakening and stirrings of a quieter, more human patriotism.

Love of our communities; warmth and respect for those who have given so much to public service in a time of crisis; reflection on what really matters. Love of life.

It’s been good to see all of these positive collective experiences and emotions in a new guise, while at the same time CoVid19 has engulfed our world, with echoes of trauma, suffering and helplessness once again.

So, however cynical you might be: raise a glass this weekend – to you and yours, to everyone around you. To life, itself. To those who have lost loved ones, we will extend sympathies and our support to the best of our ability.

We’ll meet again.

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