FOR the Second World War generation it was a bittersweet day of joy, relief and sadness that remains firmly etched in their memories.
Seventy years on from Victory in Europe (VE) Day, communities are being asked to come together and place the surviving members of the war generation at the heart of the party just as they were on May 8 1945.
For many survivors next month’s 70th anniversary commemorations may be the final time for gather and reminisce at a big public event.
The Royal British Legion and the Government are organising a weekend of celebrations to mark the anniversary - and communities in Yorkshire are being urged to organise or take part in their own events.
Special VE Day beacons will be lit at locations across Yorkshire on May 8, including at Jubilee Tower on Castle Hill, Huddersfield and at Coronation Gardens, Wakefield.
Second World War veterans will be VIP guests at a lunch reception on Sunday May 10 following a service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.
After the service, there will be a parade from the Abbey to Horse Guards Parade and into St James’s Park, where the Royal British Legion will host a gathering of around 2,000 veterans.
A Legion spokeswoman said: “Communities across the UK are being encouraged to organise or take part in celebrations which recognise and salute an extraordinary generation who played such an important part in our history.
“The Legion is working in partnership with the Government to mark the anniversary and hopes that community halls, public spaces and homes will be decked with bunting and playing music to recreate the celebrations of 70 years ago.”
Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson, president of the Legion, said: “We are honoured to play our part in helping the nation mark 70 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe.
“The Legion has a responsibility to help the memories of those of who have fought and died in our nation’s Armed Forces live on for future generations. The commemoration of this conflict, still in living memory, gives us the opportunity to salute the Second World War generation.
“We hope that all communities will use the VE Day 70 commemorations to thank them and celebrate the role they played in our nation’s history.”
On VE Day itself - Friday May 8 this year - there will be a day of remembrance including a service at The Cenotaph and a national two-minute silence at 3pm, marking the moment Winston Churchill broadcast his historic speech which formally announced the end of the war in Europe.
Schools across the nation will be encouraged to observe the silence and to hold a VE Day-themed assembly. In the evening over 100 beacons will be lit across the UK.
Details of events at www.veday.org.uk or on www.gov.uk/veday70
* What were you doing on May 8 1945?
The Yorkshire Post wants to hear from anyone who remembers that momentous day. Email email@example.com