Tomorrow, May 8th is VE Day. Victory in Europe day. It’s the 75th anniversary of it and whilst it may not be a big deal in America, it’s huge in England.
My daughters first birthday fell on the 50th anniversary. Tomorrow she turns 26 as the world acknowledges 75 years since the day Allied forces formally announced the surrender of Germany, which brought the Second World War to a close in Europe. There were still troops fighting and dying in the Middle East, my Grandad was one – but this was huge.
My Dad was just five years old. He didn’t know a day without war hanging over his head. He didn’t know his Dad at all. He told me a couple of years ago that he had some nebulous idea of ‘Daddy’ based on a children’s book he was given. He couldn’t reconcile my Grandad with ‘Daddy’ after the war as he assumed Dads were just in books. I actually found a copy of it for him and took it to him the last time I saw him. It’s one of the few times I ever saw my Dad cry.
He actually didn’t see his dad until he was eight years old. My Grandad was in Egypt and then after the war he was kept back to continue working there. He finally came home to get my Grandma and his kids and they all sailed to Egypt for a few years and then were posted to Germany. My dads whole childhood revolves around war and rebuilding after war. They didn’t come back to England to live until he was eighteen.
My Grandad lost his entire family to WW2. His parents had both succumbed to the Spanish Flu so he and his brother and sisters were brought up by their Grandparents. His grandparents and sisters all died during WW2 along with his younger brother, Sam, who died at Arnhem, not even out of his teens.
That’s my Grandad and his brothers and sisters with their Grandparents. It’s the only photo he had of any of them because everything was destroyed. He was the oldest of the four. What a heavy load it must have been to have no one left. It breaks my heart.
Tomorrow we celebrate and remember. I have such heartfelt thanks, not only for those who died but for those who had the strength to carry on. To find things to laugh about after such horror and death. To have the courage to love and risk loss again. To endure.
John 15: 13 tells us ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’
Honoring and acknowledging that gift is a debt we all owe.
*Top picture is my Grandad after the war in Germany. First row, right of center.