Amateur historians have looked on with interest as our neighbours in Britain celebrated Victory in Europe day. The sheer relief that the long contest was over has obviously entered the folk memory of the people. My mother had experienced the Blitz and always remembered VE Day, often with a Vera Lynn recording. My father was less than enamoured. Of note was that she always said that for many years the outcome was in great doubt.

It is often forgotten that a few months later there was a VJ Day after Japan surrendered but the joy of that occasion was marred by the macabre mathematical calculations around the lives lost versus servicemen saved when an Atomic bomb was used without warning on innocent civilians.

In his Victory broadcast Mr Churchill made unflattering references to Ireland. Some days later Mr DeValera in a balanced and well delivered speech (he was not sainted by either of my parents) spoke of the difficulties of opening old wounds in both parts of Ireland if he had taken another course. To be fair to Mr Churchill, a noted Imperialist, he was often to change tack if presented with a cogent argument and swiftly became an avid admirer of the Irish state, more avid than most of us who grew up in it.

The current pandemic will also pass. When it does it may not be at a particular date of deliverance. We won't, like the soldiers who liberated Paris, Rome or Brussels, have memories of a raucous day of celebration - wouldn't it have been marvellous to experience such days!! Our deliverance will probably come slower and with a great measure of reflection. We will remember lives lost, especially those elderly taken early. We must also remember how great the nation was, how it rapidly developed solidarity and neighbourliness and mutual help.

We must also learn from mistakes and avoid the professional blamer be they politicians honing their skills of outrage or serial litigants. Our institutions fared well, we all could have done better but as a society we were working in the white-out of an informational blizzard. When we look back we really must avoid the temptation of blame and remember that all the great religions of the World preach loving your neighbour and where we did well is when we lived up to that maxim.

Tony Feeney

May 21, 2020 - 9:38pm

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