How can you celebrate the VE Day anniversary across Suffolk and Essex?
- Credit: Archant
Britain has now arrived at what should have been a major national party to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day – but while lockdown has forced those plans to be abandoned, we are still being urged to mark the event at home.
There might not be any street parties and people can’t get together to celebrate as they would normally – but there are some points during the day when people are being encouraged to “come together” by doing the same things at the same time:
11am: The Royal British Legion is urging everyone to observe a two-minute silence to remember all those who lost their lives during the Second World War. They would like everyone to stop what they are doing to think about the sacrifices made during the war.
3pm: This is the main event of the day for the organisers of the event, and starts five minutes earlier as buglers are being invited to play the Last Post in their gardens to mark the moments before peace was declared.
At 3pm itself – just as the BBC is broadcasting recording of Winston Churchill’s speech – the nation is asked to raise a toast of any drink, alcoholic or not, saying: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
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Across the country – and in some other parts of the world – pipers will be playing “Battle’s O’er” to mark the official announcement of peace.
9pm: During the evening the BBC will be broadcasting a special VE Day Celebration from 8pm which will be followed by a Royal Broadcast by The Queen at 9pm and a national singalong to “We’ll Meet Again.”
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These are all national events that will be shared across the nation but some streets and communities have come together to co-ordinated picnics in gardens at the same time to try to encourage a form of community spirit.
However these events are not encouraged by the Royal British Legion or the organisers of official commemorations because of fears that they could encourage families and friends to come together in celebration.
The official bodies emphasise that government instructions on social distancing and staying at home must be obeyed – and no events that encourage people to leave their own properties are supported.
But many people are putting up their own bunting so people walking or driving by can see they are supporting the VE Day celebrations.
Until the widespread celebrations across the country were cancelled, they were being coordinated by Pageantmaster Bruno Peek, who lives on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.
He is very disappointed at the cancellation – but said there was no choice and he urged everyone to celebrated within the lockdown rules.
He said: “Everyone can still mark this in their own homes, it is just that we must not meet up with friends and family on this occasion. But the most important thing is to take part in the national toast. We have made it that anyone can make the toast with anything they have – wine, beer, tea, coffee, orange juice – it is something we want everyone, from the oldest to the youngest, to take part in.”
Dame Joan Collins will be leading the national toast. Mr Peek said it was important that the role of women in the war was recognised: “They had to see their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers go off to war and then went to work in the factories to keep the country going.”
Mr Peek has arranged many other events over the years – including the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War in November 2018.
But the cancellation of the events surrounding the VE Day anniversary is a particular sadness: “This really was the last opportunity there is likely to be for the generation who actually fought in the Second World War. By the time the 80th anniversary comes around the number who are able to mark the anniversary will be very small.”