“My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole.”
Those were the words of Winston Churchill as he addressed the crowds in Whitehall on May 8, 1945.
Seventy years on, the biggest celebration of VE Day since the day itself had been planned to mark the anniversary.
A public holiday had been announced, a parade and celebratory concert were due to take place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and numerous events large and small were planned around the UK.
Coronavirus has, sadly, led to these being cancelled.
Pageantmaster Bruno Peek is the organiser of VE Day 75. He has previously delivered celebrations for major events like The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the new millennium.
“This has been in the planning for nearly two years, but we are where we are,” he said.
“I’ve been doing this for 38 years and this is the first time I’ve had to cancel.
“We were going to have four buglers playing The Last Post on the four highest peaks of the UK, followed by four pipers playing The Battle’s O’er and These 75 Years, which was written specifically for the occasion. Then four ladies were to undertake a toast from the peaks on behalf of the nation’s women.
“Now, we’re encouraging buglers to play from the safety of their own home – whether it be their front door, garden or balcony if they live in a high-rise flat.
“At 3pm, 1,000 pipers across the UK and in 28 countries will play, and at the same time we are asking everyone to get involved by raising a glass for The Nation’s Toast for the heroes of the Second World War.”
Bruno has ruled out staging the events on next year’s anniversary instead. “It can only be celebrated on the day,” he added.
A parade organised by the Scottish Government, Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland was scheduled for Edinburgh, as well as a free open-air concert in Princes Street Gardens and an RAF flypast. Many other events, big and small, have been scrapped across Scotland.
But still, the spirit of the war has been used to provide hope that we will get through this current, unprecedented crisis.
The Queen, who waved to the crowds from Buckingham Palace on VE Day, echoed the words of Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem during her recent address to the nation when she promised “we will meet again” and that “better days will return”.
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