The big gatherings may have been postponed but churches are still finding ways to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day on the bank holiday weekend of 8th May. For some in our communities it will have a particular painful poignancy this year, particularly the last generation alive to remember the day itself. Here are some resources, ideas and timings to know about:
- At 9am Westminster Abbey have a podcast which will include an address, prayers, music from the Abbey choir, and a reflection from 95-year-old veteran Barbara Weatherill with her memories of celebrating the end of war. The podcast can be accessed here. Could you listen with others and spread the word?
- At 11am there will be a two minute silence. Do you have any with instruments who could play, or bells that could ring?
- At 11.15 the Royal British Legion say “Grab a cup of tea and join us for a 45-minute stream as we bring the World War Two generation together with today’s generation to chat about their shared experiences. We’ll be sharing stories and memories from those who served and sacrificed during the Second World War, as well as recognising the difficulties people are experiencing today.” This can be accessed on their page here or on Facebook here.
- At 3pm, people all around the country will raise a glass to ‘toast the heroes’. Many will dress their homes appropriately and to take part in these national events from home. Doing this communicates so powerfully to those who were alive on VE Day that we join together to remember.
- Some churches will gather around the local memorial. For example, Brian Golding, churchwarden at Sidmouth Parish Church, said this: “Great plans were made, nationally and locally, to remember this event with processions, street parties and church services. While COVID-19 has caused the abandonment of these, it is important we still recall the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to the generation that served… Here in Sidmouth, there will be many who recall that day in 1945, and we have our share of the heroes, so keeping something local seemed important, even if we could no longer have our street parties. When asked whether the churches could offer something local, I thought that an online act of remembrance set around the war memorial might be appreciated by people here. Visit www.sidvalley.org.uk to tune into the virtual service.”
- There is a full outline of service for VE day here from the Church of England. This could be delivered via an online tool like Zoom. It includes a number of additional prayers.
- At 8pm there is an evening of memories and music on BBC1. Could you watch these as the same time as someone else, and be on the phone so they could chat to you about it as it is going on?
- At 9pm there is a UK-wide singalong to ‘We’ll Meet Again’. Some care homes may be open to a family group or household singing this at a safe distance from residents, perhaps in the grounds or garden.
A prayer for VE Day
From the Act of Commitment for Peace
Lord God our Father,
we pledge ourselves to serve you and all humankind, in the cause of peace,
for the relief of want and suffering,
and for the praise of your name.
Guide us by your Spirit;
give us wisdom;
give us courage;
give us hope;
and keep us faithful now and always.
The thanksgiving hymns in the original 1945 thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey were ‘O God, our help in ages past’, ‘Praise my soul the King of Heaven’ and ‘Now thank we all our God’. Find out more about favourite songs like this through the Daily Hope prayer line on 0800 804 8044.
Could you tell someone about it, with a print out of the original order of service?