Today, Wednesday May 8th is a day marked for victory: Victory Europe day. VE Day began on May 8, 1945 when German forces accepted surrender during World War II. This day signifies the end of the Second Great war which lasted nearly six years and took the lives of millions of people, destroyed cities and brought about chaos and devastation world wide. Around the world, most notably the United Kingdom, The United States and of course, France, were celebrations, parties and parades to mark the end and a new beginning. While some celebrations began in late April when Adolf Hitler committed suicide and Berlin was surrounded, the official day to celebrate is May 8th. In Germany, this day is known as Liberation Day during which the citizens mark their liberation from Nazi leadership.
How is VE day celebrated?
In Paris, the commemorations will be held at the Arc de Triomphe. Like with any other patriotic holiday, the President Emmanuel Macron will be present and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It should be noted that this year’s VE day has been marked with a bit of extra preparation due to the Yellow Vest protesters’ damages. The French government has made it clear that no protests will be allowed near or during the VE day commemorations. Over 1 million euros have been spent in restoration of the Arc de Triomphe because of the protests that have been taking place since November 2018. Efforts have been made to clear graffiti and restore statues that have been damaged by the weekly protests. In Orleans, this day also marks The Siege of Orleans during the Hundred Years War.
In 1945, on VE day, crowds and parades formed marching up to Buckingham Palace in London. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth I, the Prime Minister and Princess Elizabeth and Margaret were all in attendance for the celebrations. In the U.S, May 8th was also President Truman’s birthday thus the celebrations took into account his wishes to also memorialize President Lincoln and fly American flags at half-staff. All in all, the celebrations lasted temporarily as the President warned the war was not fully won (in reference to Japan).
Throughout Europe celebrations for the end of WWII began and continue through May 9th in some countries (for example, Russia celebrates on the 9th). This is a time for patriotism, reflection and remembrance of those who fought for freedom and their loved ones who also sacrificed greatly.