VE Day 75 years on: Remember the past, think of the future

This is a seminal moment in our history in so many ways.  Never before have we been subjected to so many restrictions in peacetime and yet, collectively, we understand why.  Our education, relative affluence and access to instant news, created through many years of peace at home, allows us to recognise that in extraordinary times, there is a need for extraordinary measures.

How lucky we are that those sacrifices our forebears made in the Second World War enable us to understand this and live with it today.  That our country has embraced the amazing adventure Captain Tom Moore has been on I think reflects that instinctive understanding of those sacrifices.  It may actually help connect us with our past and realise the value of what we have today.

Victory in Europe Day gives us that collective moment when we can pause and reflect.  Although we are under lockdown and our freedom to celebrate with loved ones and friends is curtailed, we should not let that stop us marking the occasion.  Indeed, for those of us who find life is a little bit slower than it was, the opportunity to take a moment may be increased.

Whether choosing to observe VE Day through virtual commemorative events, nationwide toasts and singalongs, or simply taking a quiet moment of reflection to oneself, the day is a timely reminder of showing gratitude during times of hardship and sacrifice.

Quite rightly, throughout the pandemic, we have been encouraged to salute the efforts of those engaged in tireless service to others.  The NHS staff, carers and other essential workers who have shown such courage and gritty determination against some real challenges.  But as we take a moment to reflect on VE Day, we should also think of the dedication, imagination and endurance of those in our Armed Forces today who are doing those unsung jobs in the background to support the national effort to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

From just over 2000 troops on standby the running of 13 mobile testing units, and liaison officers in each of the 14 NHS Boards in Scotland, to supporting  the construction of the temporary NHS Louisa Jordon Hospital in Glasgow and providing helicopter support to the NHS in the Highlands and Islands, our Armed Forces in Scotland are involved in every aspect of our collective endeavour to win the fight against Covid-19. 

And yet, they also continue to protect us, providing as they do that deterrent of a professional Armed Force, which is so vital to us being able to continue the legacy of the sacrifices our grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents made 75 years ago. 

Once we have reflected on the past and we consider the present, we must also look to the future.  As our Armed Forces become numerically smaller, fewer of us than ever are familiar with what they do.  However, the current crisis has helped show the public at large the merits of our Service men and women. Dedication, selflessness, resilience, innovation, clarity of thought and a desire to help the team before themselves are all qualities and characteristics that employers seek in their employees. 

When life begins to return to normal and we can enjoy some of the freedoms we perhaps took for granted, we may consider giving another nod to the veterans of 75 years ago who we owe them to. However, it is also worth remembering that the Armed Forces of today are the veterans of tomorrow and one way we can show our gratitude for their contribution is to recognise and celebrate the value that their qualities can bring to communities and the workplace when they return to Civvy Street.