VE Day, 75 years on. A day of remembrance, deliverance and thanks to our forebears for having held their nerve and raised the enduring courage to overwhelm the evil miasma of fascism.
It is as unique an event as any other that signifies the triumph of a way of life over another. We use the words ‘the right side’ and ’the wrong side’ freely without thought these days, making the presumption that the struggle was a simplistic ‘good’ against ‘evil’ fight. And indeed it was, for once the simplistic description is wholly accurate - in part. For beyond the obvious struggle there were many other sub-plots - it is in the very nature of humanity to complicate its affairs. I was reminded of this by a young Finnish friend who was bemoaning that the little community we live in was not flying a Finnish flag in celebration. He overlooks the fact that his forebears fought enthusiastically for Nazi Germany between 1939-44 and then, seeing the way things were going, decided to throw their lot in with the Allies. It is not a condemnation of that fact, nor my young friends oversight, it is just an illustration of how the sub-plot often dictates the nature of the overall struggle - of how war is never simple, straightforward or comprehensible.
Today we should celebrate the lives that were given and lost to defeating fascism. There are many nationalities within this description and we should remember them all, and we should vow never to let this scale of international conflict happen again - though humanity is still displaying its innate capacity to rattle sabres and threaten war and destruction. We should also remember that the war continued in the Far East for a further three months, a conflict that was predicted to be as costly in human lives as anything that had happened in Europe, a conflict that may well have carried on bitterly for many more months but for the atomic bomb attacks upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A thankful, if awful conclusion.
But above all, let this be a day of celebration. A day when we remember with regret those that would never grow old, sacrificed on our behalf.