Defiant London Celebrates 60th Anniversary of WWII Ending
J. Sean Curtin (Fellow, GLOCOM and Asia Times)
Despite suffering its worst ever terrorist attack on Thursday 7 July, the next day the city was making a miraculously recovery. Although the terrible loss of life and shared grief was hard for Londoners to bear, by the weekend it felt as if things were almost returning to normal. To illustrate this point, tens of thousands of Londoners poured into Central London on Sunday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ending of World War II.
On Friday, people went to work as usual, although some parts of the subway system were out of action due to the terror attacks. Nevertheless, apart from some travel delays, shops and businesses were open as on any other regular day. It seemed everyone was determined to demonstrate to the terrorists that the city would not submit. There was genuine mass sorrow for the tragic loss of life and heartfelt sympathy for the pain of the victims' families. Yet, life in the capital continued its normal course, barely deflected by the mass slaughter perpetrated by the ruthless terrorists.
For the UK, Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of the ending of WWII and tens of thousands of people, including the author and his two-year old son, gathered in Central London for a ceremony and parade to commemorate the event.
Glorious sunshine dominated the skies, lifting the sprits of all those who gathered for the occasion. A cheerful ceremony celebrated the achievements of the war veterans and those who had lived through the war. Music, songs, dance, humour and formal speeches told the story of the war.
Once the stage event finished, tens of thousands of participants joined a parade to Buckingham Palace, led by Queen Elizabeth II. The procession's ranks were swelled by tens of thousands of people who lined the route. Crowds thronged around the gates of the palace, waiting for the Royal Family to appear on its main balcony. Their emergence signalled the final phase of the day's festivities.
Waves of vintage aircraft from WWII flew spectacularly low in an overhead tribute to the war veterans. About five groups of planes in formation raced above the crowd's heads and the final airplane dropped a million red paper poppy petals into the air, a symbol of remembrance for the war dead. A huge crimson streak filled the heaven, marking the end to an amazing celebration.
As I left the area with thousands of other people, it was hard to believe that three days earlier the city had suffered its worst ever terrorist atrocity. It made me realize that what British politicians had been saying was true: Monday really would be an ordinary day for London.