Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day , is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945.
The Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous military campaign in World War II, ran from 1939 to the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
So on Friday, May 8th, 2020, I met Malcolm Hughes at the Cenotaph. My intent was to take a few photos as we commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Besides capturing the moment, my plan was to have them available for possible insertion into our Legion’s newly designed website. Where, exactly, I wasn’t sure. I’m not a fan of “Galleries” for the sake of displaying random pictures. I have seen too many peoples’ eyes start to glaze over as they stared at a webpage containing a multitude of pictures, oftentimes in some sort of grid-view with seemingly little to no connective context between them.
Now, I’ve read BLOGs but never wrote one. Really hadn’t considered it at all. Thinking about it, however, I came to the notion perhaps a BLOG might be the perfect vehicle to showcase an event and have a picture or two to supplement the ‘telling of the tale’.
So, Here Goes …
A week prior, while speaking with Malcolm, I learned that he was going to attend at the Cenotaph on May 8th. I initially thought Sunday, May 3rd was to be the day the Legion was to celebrate. Malcolm explained because of the COVID-19 restrictions the normally planned parade was cancelled and as he expected to be the only one in attendance he had elected to go on the actual anniversary.
I mentioned I was up to attend as well. 9 am was agreed to as a meet-up time. On Friday morning, Malcolm called around 8 am with his observation that although the weather appeared threatening to the West, the weather in town had somewhat lifted and he would be at the cenotaph at 9 am. I agreed to meet him there.
Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Coronavirus …
The two of us showed at our appointed place and time. Malcolm busied himself loading the wreath and other accessories into his walker while I prepared my camera and readied my walker. We met at the centre of the pathway inside Frederick Pryce Memorial Park. Malcolm lowered the flag to half-mast and readied the Cenotaph to receive the wreath.
The weather, although being very grey, cooperated by not raining or being windy. I, for one, was thankful as this tottering older gentleman was doing all he could do to remain upright by holding onto my walker with one hand while manually operating my camera with the other. I remember this being easier 30 years ago!
The ceremony itself went smoothly. I was saddened that these COVID-19 times left us attendance-shy but at the same time felt somewhat gladdened that Malcolm persevered to maintain tradition not withstanding.
After the Ceremony
Afterwards I had a chance to chat with Malcolm. He revealed he still vividly remembers the day that the surrender was announced. He told me how he and his pals ran around the neighbourhood waving flags, well they weren’t real flags – more like rags on sticks (remember, he was just 7 1/2 at the time). He remembers all the neighbours setting up tables on the street in front of their homes and everybody celebrating in the streets. It was a glorious time. Not long after, their food rations included extras. He fondly tells of his Mom getting, as part of the rationed food, a partial banana. He tells of her slicing that partial banana into very thin slices, mushing them on a piece of bread, and then sprinkling sugar over the top. BEST THING EVER!!!!
As we started to leave, I noticed some items on top of the pedestal holding the plaque dedicating the park as the Frederick Pryce Memorial Park. Someone had placed a “Remembrance” wrist-band and two painted rocks both of which had the words “Thank You” printed on them.
To BLOG or not to BLOG – That is the question. Is this something the membership would like to see more of or not so much. Let me know in the comments below. If there is interest the sky’s the limit as to format, subject-matter and authors (yes, this could be a cooperative effort). Looking forward to hearing from you.