It enabled families to remember the sacrifices made by their forebears, rightly revered as the greatest generation, to uphold a freedom which a minority had come to take for granted until draconian restrictions had to be put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19.
They also did so in the wake of the death of York’s Battle of Britain veteran Terry Clark at the age of 101. His passing leaves John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway as the sole survivor of The Few who answered Winston Churchill’s call and took to the skies 80 years ago to defend the UK against attacks from the Luftwaffe.
As such, the evocative red, white and blue flypast by the Red Arrows had even more resonance as Boris Johnson used his own VE Day message to appeal for “the same spirit of national endeavour” that Britain showed to the world between 1939-45.
And it was a theme taken up by the Queen whose first-hand experience of the Second World War, and the celebrations that broke out when news emerged of Germany’s surrender, meant that she was uniquely placed to express this nation’s thanks to all those who played a role in the war effort.
“Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day,” observed the Queen. It is also a spirit of hope that is just as applicable to current battles.
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