As difficult as it might be when anxiety and worry are heightened every present moment, we must never lose sight of the lessons of history amid the turmoil facing our communities under the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, history should shine brightly we mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, otherwise known as the end of The Second World War in Europe.
On May 8, 1945, the world erupted with ecstatic relief to know the quest of oppression in Europe had been put to an end with Nazi surrender. There were still struggles, reparations and aggression in other parts of the world, but that day marked an important victory for goodwill over dark intentions. Today, we honour every sacrifice made on the battlefields and in every corner of the home front.
Stella Curtis remembers that day vividly. She was in Hamilton when the news struck and the streets filled with thousands of revelers in the spirit of true relief and elation.
“I was right at the corner of King and James and we were whooping it up and the bells were ringing,” she recalls. “It was beautiful; the streets were so crowded you couldn’t get across if you tried.”
Stella’s husband Jim was a proud veteran, and her father experienced the hardships of war during The Great War a generation before when he was imprisoned. Her son also volunteered for service, so remembrance is as important to her as anything; she worries that fewer people today mark these important points of our collective history.
“If you don’t know your history,” Stella says, “you’re going to repeat it. VE Day was always important because we were very proud to be free.”
Countless residents and families have connections to the veterans of war and conflict, as well as to those who know all too well the sacrifices of so many to put an end to that dark period in history. It’s hard not to draw comparisons in the sense that today, sacrifice, dedication, perseverance and a collective will to overcome a common threat prevail, and we are grateful for the fine example generations before us have set.
And we’re grateful to Stella and all who keep this important memory of VE Day alive.
“That was the most glorious day I ever had in my life besides my wedding day,” Stella says. “That’s how much it meant to us in those days.”