As people might remember, the May Day Bank Holiday was changed this year to Friday 8th May 2020, with the intention of celebrating 75 years since VE Day. Although we are not in school, let’s see if we can still come together as a community to share our gratitude for those who fought, worked and lived during that period.
What is VE day?
VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) is the day on which Allied forces formally announced the surrender of Germany, which brought the Second World War to an end across Europe in 1945.
Actual surrender was signed on the 7th of May, with Sir Winston Churchill – the Prime Minister at the time – announcing to the nation the official news on the 8th of May 1945.
Celebrations began nationwide with street parties and gatherings, and in London, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace alongside Sir Winston Churchill.
What is happening this year?
Many events will take place this year at similar times to those of the 8th May 1945, and we would like to welcome our Harlow Green family to take part in those events too. A suggested timetable for the day appears to be as follows:
11am; A national 2 minutes silence.
3pm; ‘The Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of The Second World War’ is planned for 3pm where we ask everyone to safely, and at distance, step outside and raise a glass (with an appropriate drink of their choice) and say to all: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
Throughout the afternoon; Families are encouraged to enjoy a ‘Stay at Home’ garden party, picnic or tea party with lots of red, white and blue, hopefully in the sunshine (again observing current guidelines on social distancing). If this runs over the 3pm National Toast, then you are encouraged to stop and raise a glass, saying to all; “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”
9pm; Although it may seem late, the Queen will address the nation at 9pm on the 8th of May – which is the exact time that her father, King George VI gave his radio address back in 1945. After this, everyone is encouraged to join in a sing-a-long to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”. The words from this were echoed in the recent speech given by the Queen addressing the current situation with Coronavirus, in which she stated that “…better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
What can we do as a school community?
National celebrations for VE Day have been scaled back, but it is essential that they are not forgotten. This year, these celebrations take on an even more poignant nature, as we are reminded daily how fragile life, and society are, and that the time at home we have with our families is even more important now, than ever.
We would like you, and all our Harlow Green team, to turn red, white and blue for the day, join in the silence, the picnic and the toast. It will be wonderful to think that we can all have the same focus for the Friday and that, even if we are not together physically, we can be together in spirit!
We do of course ask everyone to be especially aware of the importance of observing current rules and regulations about social distancing, and not be tempted to forget these during this time of national celebration. Your picnics must still be within your safe, socially distant spaces at home, maybe in the front or back garden if you have the space, in a similar way to the way people clap for carers safely at their doors on a Thursday. Only people within your household should be involved.
To help you get started …
1. Make your bunting and go red, white and blue.
Everyone is encouraged to start making their bunting (see template below). The BBC has a whole page dedicated to ideas and suggestions on how to decorate these. On the day, get out your best red, white and blue clothes too.
Ideas on what to decorate your bunting with can be found following the instructions below. Suggestions include an image of a soldier from World War Two, your relatives who may have served during the war, the Union flag, a dove of peace, a simple message of thanks or maybe an image of your hero.
2. Plan your picnic, join in the toast and enjoy singing along!
It is not as easy currently to pop to the shops and stock up on things you might want for a picnic, so plan ahead and shop wisely when you are out so you only need to make essential journeys.
Make your own VE Day menu for what your food will consist of. Remember, it is not what you are eating that is important but the fact that you are able to eat together.
Enjoy your picnic through the afternoon, raise a toast at 3pm and – join the singalong to “We’ll Meet Again” after the Queen’s speech at 9pm. Words for the song are here;
There is also a song that children can learn called “Take You Home” and here it is, with sign language too that they could learn:
3. Do some research.
Ask your parents, grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents if they know anything about family members who may have served in World War Two.
Below is a template for a postcard that the children might like to write, to re-create a post card home from a solider on the frontline, or from a loved one back to the solider.
Learn a bit more about VE Day with the PowerPoint attached here. It is aimed at KS2, so parents and carers might want to review it first for younger children:
4. Share your stories.
We would love to hear and see what you get up to! Send us your pictures or short video clips of you raising your toast as a family or your picnic, whether it is inside or outside, so we can compile a school montage of how Harlow Green remembered 75 Years since VE Day.
Have fun and stay safe and send us your red, white and blue!