Shining a Light on VE Day 75

This Friday 8 May marks 75 years since World War Two in Europe came to an end. Throughout the world, people are being encouraged to reflect on the sacrifice and courage of the millions who played their part 75 years ago – from Armed Forces personnel who bravely fought, to the men and women who stayed at home to aid the war effort and safeguard the home front. 

As well as a time to remember, the day is also a celebration of peace – VE Day saw the nation take to the streets in euphoria, relieved that the war was finally over. Although we rightly acknowledge the loss and sadness of the war and its impact which resonated for decades, the determination and resilience of people in supporting each other through dark times is also central in commemorating VE Day.

With many national and community events throughout the country postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still a number of ways you can mark the occasion online and at home. Here is a round-up of some of the ways you might like to get involved.

VE Day 75 in Scotland

Scotland’s national VE Day 75 commemorations, led by Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland in partnership with the Scottish Government, will take place throughout the day on Friday.

08:00 – All Army in Scotland units, other Service units and Legion Scotland branches have been invited to raise their unit’s flag at 8am to start the commemorations. Pictures will be shared on social media, along with other VE Day activities throughout the day, at @ArmyScotland and with the hashtags #VEDay75, #ArmyScotlandSalutesWW2Heroes and #HeroesOfWW2.

10:35 –  A virtual VE Day 75 service will be broadcast on Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland Facebook pages. The service, lasting 40 minutes, will be led by Rev Dr Karen Campbell and will include a reading by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and a two-minute silence at 11am.

12:00 – A virtual VE Day 75 tribute will take place, again broadcast on Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland Facebook pages. An upbeat, vibrant and celebratory event, it will include contributions from those who were set to perform as part of a VE Day concert in Princes Street Gardens.

We are also being encouraged to hold a party in the safety of our own homes and use video chat technology to connect and celebrate with family and friends. Poppyscotland has created some great resources and activities to help plan your VE Day-themed party including suggested recipes, playlists and how to make home–made bunting.

Throughout the UK, there will be a two-minute silence at 11am, while buglers, trumpeters and cornet players are being encouraged to play the Last Post at 2.55pm from the safety of their homes.  Pipers are invited to play Battle’s O’er and a new commemorative piece, VE 75 Years, at 3pm before people throughout the country can raise a glass at their front doors, gardens, windows or balconies and join in the toast: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”

At 8pm, BBC1 will broadcast a programme featuring memories and music, with a pre-recorded speech by the Queen set to be broadcast just before 9pm – the moment her father, King George VI, addressed the people over radio on May 8 1945. After this, the nation is encouraged to join in a singalong of “We’ll Meet Again”. Lyrics can be found here.

In addition to the above, there are other ways to get involved, including:

Walking With The Wounded Military Quiz
For military buffs, WWTW will be hosting a VE Day Quiz live from 6-10pm that you can participate in from the comfort and safety of your home. More information here.

Great British Bunting
BBC Local Radio is also encouraging people to get crafty and make their own bunting to hang in their windows on VE Day. You can share your pictures on social media using the hashtags #GreatBritishBunting, #VEDay75 and #BBCMakeaDifference. More information here.

Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity Memories
The RNRMC is asking people to share stories and memories from WW2 for its online collection, which aims to ensure the sacrifices of elder generations are remembered. You can view the memories shared by others and submit your own here.

CWGC Wall of Remembrance
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is creating a virtual Wall of Remembrance for those who want to honour a loved one who fought during the world wars or simply leave a message of thanks. View the wall and share your own tribute here

Shine A Light
At 9.30pm on Friday 8 May, naval ships around the world will redirect their searchlights skywards for five minutes. The Royal Navy is encouraging people to use their phones, torches or anything that emits light to do the same, and share their photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #ShineALight. More info here.

However we mark VE Day75 during these extraordinary times, we can surely all pay tribute to the remarkable resilience of that generation and acknowledge the duty we have to look after them now.  I would encourage you to go online or take a moment quietly in your own homes to say thank you, perhaps to a particular family member, for their sacrifice and endeavour all those years ago.