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Celebrating VE Day is a reminder that we can save the generation who secured a future for us

by Alison Clark-Dick

The 75th anniversary of VE Day (when the war ended in Europe, but not the end of the war itself) has coincided with the biggest challenge to Britain since that very war.

Restrictions on everyday movement, state interference in our everyday life, limits on food – you’d be forgiven for thinking I was describing war time Britain. This is Britain during lockdown in a global pandemic.

You and I are being asked to take action today to save the generation who went to war to save our generation and those of the future. This should unite the generations. An opportunity to silence the critics who say youngsters wouldn’t know the definition of hardship, and those who see older people as fuddy duddies.   

The pandemic is a challenge to our mental and physical health, a challenge socially, economically, politically and everything else that comes with it, but we owe it to that war time generation to see this out. They helped us, it is our turn to help them.  

They went through six years of war with bombs raining down on their heads killing 70,000 civilians, 384,000 British military deaths, the constant dread of imminent invasion, strict rationing (which didn’t end until 1954), children being sent to live in the countryside with strangers – the list is endless. The pandemic has made us appreciate that little bit more what they went through. The restrictions on us won’t last six years, we are lucky we have the technology to work from home and to keep in touch with loved ones, we don’t have Anderson shelters in our gardens, rationing or enforced blackouts.

We are by no means being let off easy though. In Britain we’ve had tens of thousands of deaths, restrictions of movement and who we can and cannot see, and economic uncertainty which will have consequences for years to come. We don’t have to send our loved ones to war in Europe but we are sending our key workers to the frontline to fight an invisible enemy, we don’t know what it’s capable of and we don’t have the weapons (vaccine) to fight it.

But war does change things, and can accelerate change. It changed society – it inspired women to fight for their right to work in non-traditional jobs for equal pay and rights in the workplace and beyond; and it advances medical knowledge.

Coronavirus will transform our expectations of our workplace, it will reset our family lives and make us evaluate what is and isn’t valuable to us, and it will make us appreciate our keyworkers forevermore.

So let’s celebrate VE Day, acknowledge the sacrifices so many made then by ensuring we continue to make sacrifices of our own now. This is an opportunity to bring the generations closer together – they did it for us, now let us do something for them.

Alison Clark-Dick is communications officer at Improvement Service. You can say hello on Twitter at @AlisonCD2

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