May 8 - V-E Day

Posted on May 8, 2020

The "V" stands for - as it so often does - "Victory"!

The "E" stands for "Europe."

The little hyphen in between (only used in the U.S.) doesn't really stand for anything, but "V-E Day" translates to "Victory in Europe." (Certainly not victory OVER Europe!)

World War II was a war that was fought over much of the world, so May 8, 1945, wasn't (unfortunately) the end of the war, but it was the date of the unconditional surrender of the Nazis. 

Adolf Hitler had committed suicide about a week before, and it was his successor who signed off on the military surrender. Benito Mussolini, the fascist ruler of Italy who had joined forces with Hitler, had been overthrown in 1943 and was executed two days before Hitler's suicide. 

Because of time zones, the actual stop to all hostilities occurred when it was already May 9 is the USSR, so Russia and a few other nations celebrate V-E Day on May 9. 

Some European nations celebrate Victory in Europe Day as Victory Over Fascism Day or Liberation Day or simply Victory Day. 

Sometimes there are fairly grand celebrations. In 2015 there were three days of celebrations in the U.K.! This year is the 75th anniversary - a great time for a really big shindig...

...under normal circumstances. But of course we are experiencing far-from-normal circumstances. There will be no street parties or parades. But in the United Kingdom:

The Queen will give a televised address, and the Prince of Wales will read an excerpt from George VI's diary on May 8, 1945. 

There will be 2 minutes of silence at 11 a.m. (including on TV and radio).

At 3 p.m., people are invited to stand up wherever they are, lift a glass, and say, "To those who gave so much, we thank you."

Many people are putting images of WWII soldiers in their windows. This "Tommy in the Window" campaign celebrates national heroes of the past and present.

Many people plan to drape flags and bunting over their balconies or walls. People plan to picnic in yards and on balconies - many within sight of one another. 

To help with bunting-making and patriotic picnics, the official VE Day 75 website (which doesn't seem to work for me here in the U.S. - hmm) offers special recipes and downloads / printables.

There will be a flyover in London.

There will be a "clap for victory" over COVID-19 at 7:45 p.m.

There will be remote Lindy-Hop classes and distance sing-along of wartime classics.

Pipers will play "Battle's O'er."

Town criers will call out the announcements of peace for all who can hear from their windows, at a safe distance.

People all over the world have filmed themselves lowering their flags, and the edited-together footage is being released as a sort of virtual VE Day commemoration.

In some towns other sorts of commemorations are planned, including thousands of Cornish people singing "Cornwall, My Home," from their doorsteps, a socially-distanced street picnic, and children decorating their own gardens with a VE theme.

In 2020, our celebrations won't look like the crowded scenes of yesteryear...

...But they're sure to have a strange beauty of their own.

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