My memories of WWII are very sketchy as I was under five at the time of VE Day. One of my favourite possessions is a photograph of my Mother, Grandmother and myself at a VE Day street party. I am sitting at the table with other children and my Mother and Grandmother stood behind me.
As I have said, I cannot remember much about the occasion – not even what we had to eat or drink. In fact, the only drinks I can remember, when thinking back, is ‘Rosehip Syrup’ and ‘National Dried Milk’.
From my parent’s accounts, I do know that the life lived after WWII was very different from that lived before. There had been a change; some would say for the better and others not. In cities, like Plymouth, large bomb sites could be found everywhere, shells of houses standing alone and forlorn. There was rationing because many items of food were in short supply. (I can remember our school chaplain telling us that we should avoid sweets for Lent which we did because we couldn’t get them.) One could not go far without meeting someone who had suffered as a result of service in the forces or civilians who had been injured at home. Also, of course, there were many families with an empty place at the table.
It has been said that our experiences of the last eight weeks are similar to the experiences of people during and after WWII. In a sense that will be true as our lives following Coronavirus will contain memories of living in isolation and other restrictions. To be able to stand next to someone and have a conversation will be strange, to hug a relation or close friend will seem a great joy, meals or drinks in a café, restaurant or pub will be a pleasure to be treasured. We shall have to do the very thing that most of dislike and that is ‘change’.
How we face that change will vary according to who we are and how sure we are of ourselves and the new life that will confront us. One thing I believe to be certain is that we shall not face that change alone as individuals or communities. 'Lo, I am with you always to end of time..’ says the one who knew what it was to suffer isolation, betrayal and death. In his strength and power we shall overcome.
We remember all those who have died
and all those who grieve for them.
In the stillness we name them before you.
Bless and sustain those working to heal the sick,
those who protect the vulnerable.
Bless all who produce and distribute
essential medical and protective supplies.
Bless all who are working with risk or danger
and all who look to protect them.
Lord, hear our prayer
and let our cry come to you.