Friday May 8, 2020 Victory in Europe Day
75th Anniversary of WWII Victory in Europe
A Salute and Thanks to All Veterans!
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day (United Kingdom) or V-E Day (US), is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany‘s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe.
VE Day is celebrated across Western European states on 8 May, with several countries observing public holidays on the day each year.
President Trump joins World War II Veterans at VE Day Ceremony
‘Never Give Up, Never Despair’
In the UK, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II reminded Britain to “never give up, never despair” in a moving message to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Speaking with pride, she gave the address to a nation she said Second World War heroes would still “recognise and admire”.
The monarch, who delivered a special address at 9pm – just as her father had done at the end of fighting in Europe – said she “vividly” remembered the “jubilant scenes” that had marked triumph after the bleak uncertainty of war.
As the nation commemorated the anniversary in lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis, she paid tribute to the strength, courage and sacrifice of so many who died for the freedom of others, saying: “We should and will remember them.”
The nation came together, even when forced apart by lockdown, to remember the end of war in Europe and mark 75 years since VE Day.
VE Day Celebrations in the United Kingdom
The Queen said the message of VE Day is “never give up, never despair”, remembering the sacrifices of the Second World War generation in a poignant speech.
She said their lasting legacy “is that countries who were once sworn enemies are now friends, working side by side for the peace, health and prosperity of us all”.
Despite swathes of events and swarming parades being cancelled because of the coronavirus lockdown, the UK found ways to come together to pay tribute to those who served in the era-defining global conflict.
The day began with a national two minute silence at 11am, which gave Britons the opportunity to pause and reflect, remembering the lives lost and sacrifices made in wartime.
Then the RAF’s Red Arrows also roared over parts of the UK, in a special flypast to mark the anniversary.
Following the Queen’s speech, people were invited to open their doors and windows and take part in singalong of Dame Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”, which has once again become a symbol of hope for Britons during the coronavirus pandemic.
WW II Veteran Story – ‘That was a really close call’
Frank Cohn was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1925.
Now 94 years old, Cohn recalled when a business partner of his father’s was taken to Gestapo headquarters and questioned. Cohn said they found his father’s friend dead on the sidewalk after he either jumped or was pushed from a fourth-floor window.
Cohn’s father then left for the U.S., seeking to start legal immigration processes. His father wasn’t successful, but Cohn said it was for the best; it would’ve taken around five years. His father remained in America, looking for alternatives. Then, later, the Gestapo knocked on his childhood home’s door in Breslau, looking for his father.
“Immediately, the vision in my head was of my father’s business friend having been killed by the Gestapo when they took him to the headquarters,” Cohn told USA TODAY. “It made you feel inferior because people looked down on you just because you had the label ‘Jew.’ That was the kind of thing that crept on you very slowly, even at a young age.”
Cohn’s mother wrote his father and told him not to return. Eventually, she obtained a visitor’s visa. They escaped in 1938, when Cohn was 13.
“That was a really close call,” Cohn said. “Because if my mother hadn’t done what she did – we walked out of the house leaving everything behind – by 1941, I would’ve been dead.”
One month after he turned 18, in September 1943, Cohn was drafted. Even though he wasn’t a citizen, the Allied Forces needed all the troops they could find. But since he was a foreigner, Cohn could’ve declined service.
“That never entered my mind,” he said. “It was my obligation, no question about that.”
He was sworn in as a citizen and enlisted. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge and Rhineland campaigns. He was assigned to an intelligence unit called T-Force, 12th Army Group, and fought against a people that – just years before – had been his countrymen.
“That was never a problem because I had absolutely no loyalty to Germany,” Cohn said. “None. They made me stateless. But even before that, I regarded myself as American. Because America had that one substance of taking care of immigrants and integrating them into society as Americans. I really didn’t feel strange at all. As a kid I felt much stranger in Germany because I was earmarked as a Jew and I was not allowed to do many things. We were in segregation. While here, I was immediately accepted.”
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