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House of Commons Hansard
VE Day (70th Anniversary)
16 March 2015
Volume 594
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I would like to inform the House of plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE Day. On VE Day in 1945 millions of people across the UK and abroad, shared a sense of relief and euphoria that the war in Europe was over. The 70th anniversary is an opportunity to remember the sacrifice and sheer determination of the people who saw us through this dark period, give thanks to all those who so bravely played their part and celebrate peace and reconciliation. The three days of events will commence on Friday 8 May at 1500, the moment Sir Winston Churchill made his famous speech declaring that the war in Europe was over. There will be a national two minute silence followed by a Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph, with wreaths laid in tribute, including by representatives of veteran organisations. Schools will be taking part in a range of activities. In the evening, a chain of beacons will be lit across the UK to mark the transition from remembrance to celebration. On Saturday 9 May, cathedrals, churches and others will ring bells, ships will sound their horns and in the evening there will be a live commemorative concert broadcast from Horse Guards Parade. Central London will reflect the spirit of VE Day with flags flying and illumination of landmarks; from Trafalgar Square, along the Mall, Whitehall and in Parliament Square. On Sunday 10 May, there will be a Service of Thanksgiving in Westminster Abbey and later, military and civilian veterans and their representatives will parade through Whitehall. In the afternoon there will be a reception for the veterans and a flypast by aircraft, including the Spitfire and the Lancaster. Throughout the weekend communities and families will bring the commemorations to life in the way which is most meaningful for them, whether this is a picnic in the park, a street party, exhibitions or formal receptions. The programme of events will be staged in partnership with a large number of organisations, including the Royal British Legion, and I thank them in advance for their passion and commitment to making VE Day 70 a success. I hope as many people as possible of all ages and from all walks of life will take the opportunity to reflect on, and mark, this important anniversary in our history and give thanks to those that contributed so much.