EDITORIAL: Let’s not forget the lessons of the past

‘Greatest Generation’ and VE-Day are lessons in doing the right thing

Canadian soldiers on patrol in France during the Second World War. (Veteran Affairs Canada)

Canadian soldiers on patrol in France during the Second World War. (Veteran Affairs Canada)

May 8 is the 75th anniversary of the Allied Forces’ victory and the end of the Second World War in Europe.

It’s known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. On this day in 1945, the allies of the Second World War accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender.

Celebrations erupted throughout the Western world, including many Canadian cities, to mark the end of the European part of the war. Prime Minister Mackenzie King called it “a good day – a happy day.”

The Second World War was the deadliest military conflict in human history, with more than 45,000 Canadians and 60 million people killed worldwide. It’s estimated fewer than 33,000 living Second World War veterans in Canada today.

Those who grew up during the Great Depression and contributed to the war effort were called the “Greatest Generation” by TV newsman Tom Brokaw.

In his book by the same name, he wrote these men and women fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”

The Second World War until its end dramatically shifted the daily reality for nearly everyone the world over.

The Greatest Generation’s sacrifices offer us an incredible lesson today amid the COVID-19 crisis, and it’s more important than ever that we preserve the legacy, lessons and sacrifices of their moment in history.

Until now, unless you lived through the Great Depression or the Second World War, no one has ever experienced sacrifices that we will need to make in the coming weeks and months to battle COVID-19.

The Greatest Generation had its moment and millions of people at home and abroad stepped up to ensure freedom and liberty across the globe. The sacrifices they made were hard. Food was rationed and many gave their lives, but they knew what was required and rose to the challenge of the times. It ended with victory in the Second World War.

COVID-19 may very well represent our defining moment.

Let’s not forget the lessons of the past.


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