Because of that day,my generation could be born, and following generations too. I asked my mother what she was doing on VE Day. "Dancing in the school playground," she replied with a smile. She could remember a time of peace as she had been eleven years old when the war began. How wonderful it must have been for other teenagers like herself, just coming into adulthood. She would know that she wouldn't have to worry about her family any more - her mother and older sister had both worked in wartime industry. Her father had died before the war, but now she could look forward to meeting and marrying someone who would be safe at home and bring up a family with her.
Watching the commemorations on television, it struck me how different groups would have reacted to the news. Starting with the youngest, there were children like Allie, the heroine of my novel Secrets and Shadows, who had been too young to remember anything but wartime. Austerity still continued, but imagine the wonder of seeing the streets lit up at night, and the strangeness of all the men returning from fighting. No more nights in the air-raid shelters, and for many a return home after years evacuated away to strangers or relations. Then there were the mothers, seeing their husbands returning from the war, safe at last, maybe sons and brothers too. For others there would be a great gaping hole left by the loss of a loved one, whether fighting or at home. The soldiers, returning to civilian life, would have to adjust to a calmer way of life, to women who maybe had changed because they had gained so much independence during the war years, and to children they barely knew. Memories of wartime must have haunted them during their post-war lives. Of course, on VE Day, many were still fighting in the Far East, but news of the cessation of hostilities in Europe must have given them hope. Plus there would be men returning from being prisoners of war. Would they have regretted being unable to continue their fight, or would they be relieved to know that they had been spared and could return home?
We owe all of these people our lives and they way we live them today. As we celebrate this historic day, we also celebrate the birth of modern Britain, and we should be proud of all that came from our forebears and their years of hardship and sacrifice.