Society of Editors: Must salute VE Day 75 heroes even in this crisis

Posted on: April 3, 2020 by Claire Meadows

The Society of Editors (SoE) is backing a call for the important 75th anniversary of VE Day to still be commemorated amid the current Covid-19 virus crisis.

The SoE has been a supporter of plans for large-scale commemorative events throughout the nation to mark the anniversary of the end of the war in Europe on May 8. Local press had responded to calls to support events due to take part in their communities which included the ringing of church bells,  music from buglers and pipers and statements from town criers urging the public to mark the occasion and recognise the heroic sacrifices made by the 1939-45 generation.

The coronavirus crisis means that few if any of those events can now take place as people self-isolate. But organisers hope one element of the planned commemorations can still take place: The Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of WW11 with people raising a glass in their homes to salute the 1939-45 generation.

VE Day 75 community commemorations organiser Bruno Peak has written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask him to lead the nation’s toast.

“If anything, the current crisis we are going through should remind us of the way we owe so much to the generation of heroes that saw us through the Second World War. I am certain that the people of the United Kingdom and beyond would still wish to mark the occasion in an appropriate way on May 8 even if they are confined to their homes,” said Bruno.

“What I propose still provides the whole country with the opportunity of coming together at one moment in time and celebrating this important anniversary on the 8th May – VE Day 75 this year, without putting the public in any danger whatsoever.

“I hope the media will assist in making this happen,” he added.

Bruno’s proposal is for a day of commemorative events starting at 2.55 pm on May 8 with the playing of “Battle’s O’er”, the traditional tune played on the pipes at the end of a battle, and “VE 75 Years”, the new March written in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the end of the war in Europe to be broadcast on TV and radio. The music would be followed by a recording of Churchill’s famous speech to mark the end of the conflict with Germany and then the nation raising a toast to its heroes.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors said: “It is sad that the nation will not be able to participate in the kind of large-scale commemorative events that this anniversary deserves, but we should nevertheless find time to pay tribute to a generation who saw us through the last truly  large scale crisis to affect our nation.

“At this time when we are again drawing on our reserves as a people to come together to combat a common foe, it is fitting we salute the Second World War generation.”