VE Day gives us hope as we show same spirit of unity against coronavirus

Tomorrow, we mark a momentous event in our island history. It was 75 years ago a joyous nation celebrated VE Day, the end of six long years of war and suffering. Through the tears and laughter shone a bright new dawn, the promise of a better world for which our men and women had fought, on the -battlefield and at home.

I was barely 18 months old at the time, so I have no memories of that glorious celebration. But I feel an uncanny link between then and now. There is a renewal of hope.

As forces sweetheart Vera Lynn said: "VE Day will remind us all that hope remains even in the most difficult of times, and that simple acts of bravery and -sacrifice still define our nation as the NHS works so hard to care for us." In 1945, we had defeated fascism. Tomorrow, we are trying to beat an enemy we cannot see, but is just as lethal.

Brits are showing the same spirit of unity now as in the Second World War
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The conflict has moved from the killing fields of Europe to our NHS and the military are fighting alongside nurses, doctors and hospital porters.

As they did in 1945, the Royal Family are playing a leading role in tomorrow's celebrations. The Prince of Wales will lead a two-minute silence at 11am, and later in the day will read extracts from his grandfather King George VI's diary, which describes VE Day in detail. These will include the King's relief that the war in Europe was over, the family's iconic appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and having lunch with Sir Winston Churchill.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recorded a message of -reflection and at 3pm, extracts from Sir Winston Churchill's 1945 victory speech will be broadcast.

VE Day gives us hope as we show same spirit of unity against coronavirusBritain marks 75 years since victory in Europe tomorrow
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And at 9pm the Queen will make a historic address to the nation, before a national singalong of Dame Vera's We'll Meet Again. Classical singer Katherine Jenkins is to perform a concert at an empty Albert Hall. The Red Arrows will stage a fly-past over London, and RAF Typhoons will pass over Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Despite talk of an -imminent easing, the -Government yesterday extended the lockdown through the VE Day Bank Holiday weekend. But the public are being encouraged to celebrate in their own gardens or living rooms, with abundant bunting turning the country red, white and blue. The British Beer and Pub Association has called on its members - who represent more than 20,000 pubs - to raise a glass virtually.

Celebrations will start at Captain Tom Moore's local, The Bell, in Bedfordshire, where landlord Karl Clark will ring the pub bell at 3pm to honour veterans.

VE Day gives us hope as we show same spirit of unity against coronavirusA socially distanced street party will take place in Doncaster
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Residents in Thetford, Norfolk, will be treated to a musical extravaganza thanks to lorry driver Chris Riches. He has been granted permission to drive through the streets in his truck playing songs to cheer people up. In Doncaster Dennis Monroe, his family and neighbours will dress in wartime costumes for a socially distanced street party to be streamed live on Facebook.

He said: "My kids are so excited. My girls are wearing 1930s school uniforms and the lads have evacuee outfits with gas masks." Devon-based group, Plymouth Dance are uploading themed online tutorials to teach us how to move to some classic vintage tunes.

There's three to pick at  visitplymouth.co.uk. A Royal British Legion standard bearer is holding a "virtual parade" to mark the big day. Steven Carr, from Huntingdon, Cambs, has got more than 300 other standard bearers to take part in a Facebook video.

For me, and I am sure so many of you, this is deeply personal. VE Day brought heartfelt thanks from my mother in Railway Terrace, Normanton, West Yorks, and relief to my serving father in the Middle East.

VE Day gives us hope as we show same spirit of unity against coronavirusAlex Glover, 10, has created VE Day theme outside his home in Sittingbourne, Kent
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After six long years, three in separation, for them the war was finally over, but it was months before they were reunited. When he came home, in a scene repeated all over the country, I didn't know who he was.

My mother would show me a tiny black and white photograph of him on the mantelpiece, saying "That's your dad." This six-foot man in RAF uniform scared me so much I blurted: "That's not my dad, my dad's on the mantelpiece," and fled in tears next door to the Dainty family. That's what war does. I'm thankful that Harry's last weekend leave from the RAF in March 1943 allowed me to come into the world - but even more grateful to the -sacrifice of all those who gave us our freedom.

This was no ordinary war of divine-rule kings fighting for territory on a Europe soaked in the blood of centuries. It was an existential struggle for our way of life. On that thrilling day 75 years ago, we were given the gift of peace.

A peace that passes all understanding and has lasted a lifetime. My parents lived through the Second World War and theirs lived through two world wars. My g-eneration was spared the Blitz, the bombing, the forced movement of workers and the knock of the post boy with a telegram from the War Office.

It was a people's war for a better world. That's why, two months later, fighting men and women around the globe voted against their iconic -battle-leader Winston Churchill to elect Clement Attlee, a little man with a 'tash and a vision.

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VE Day 75th Anniversary

Looking back, it seems clear VE Day was the start of -something bigger than the fall of Hitler. It marked the rise of hope that the rest of the 20th century would bring a changed society, drawing on the spirit of the war to create something better than the cruel 30s.

And that hope was fulfilled, until it became fashionable to worship -individualism, greed and nationalism. In a strange kind of way, we are tomorrow where we were 75 years ago. The same spirit of unity is bringing us to the same goal: freedom from fear.

VE Day will hopefully reprise as VV Day - Victory over the Virus.

It will be a day to remember, not on the scale of May 8, 1945, but with the same hope of better days to come.

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