It is probably one of the best known photographs ever taken. A skinny young sailor sweeps a girl in a white uniform into his arms in Times Square and exuberantly kisses her. Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous Kissing the War Goodbye photograph seemed to “say it all” for most of the world in 1945.
It was time to hope again.
Seventy-five years ago this week, Canada and her War time Allies celebrated VE (Victory in Europe) Day, May 8, 1945. Germany, reduced almost to rubble, had surrendered. Hitler was dead. Mussolini was dead. Joining newspapers world wide, The Leader ran relieved and triumphant headlines: Victory is Ours!
The cost of defeating a vicious and implacable enemy had been high. Over one million Canadians had signed up to serve in World War II. Of that number, 42,000 did not get to come home. 55,000 returned wounded in body and soul.
Our military had taken part in the desperate Battle of the Atlantic, flown fighters in the Battle of Britain, fought across Italy to take Ortona, fallen on the beaches of Dieppe, charged ashore at Juno.
We fought side-by-side with our British and American allies, and did our part. Often, Canadians were given the toughest jobs of the war.
And when, in 1945, it was all over, Canadians at home rushed into the streets, the town halls, the churches, to celebrate. Fighting soldiers or civilians, they had stood shoulder to shoulder for five long, hard years. Now everyone wanted to share in the triumph.
There are those who might say that we are engaged, in 2020, in fighting yet another vicious and implacable enemy. This is a different kind of war, no question, with an enemy that is invisible.
But it has demanded some similar sacrifices and commitment on the homefront that Canadians made 75 years ago.
This week on the anniversary of VE Day, celebrating forever a triumph over seemingly impossible odds, it might be worth reflecting that 75 years ago, we stood together.
From 1939 to 1945 Canadians united to face the very worst life could throw at them: and in the end, we won.
Just like that kid in 1945, joyously kissing a girl in Times Square, we too will soon hope again.
For all Canadians in 2020, as in 1945, as long as we are standing together, surely victory will be ours!.