Seventy years ago today, the Nazis surrendered to the Allies in Berlin ending Hitler’s 1,000 year reign at twelve. But in those 12 years, the Nazis caused a millenium of misery.
I had the good fortune of being in London during the 50th anniversary of VE Day celebrations which were held at Hyde Park. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. There must have been 2 million people there. There was an enormous crowd yet I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. I had a feeling of liberation, joy, gratitude and merriment.
Many veterans were there naturally mostly British, but there were some Americans and Canadian soldiers in the crowd as well. I thanked as many as I could.
There were many dignataries present. The Royal Family including the Queen Mother were front in center. Many forget that the Queen Mum could have gone to Canada during the war, but opted to stay at Buckingham Palace which was attacked numerous times by the Luftwaffe. One of these attacks nearly claimed her life. The Queen Mum frequently visited other parts of London which had been bombed. This helped morale immeasurably.
It also marked one of the last public appearances Prince Charles & Princess Diana made together. Just over two years later, Diana would be dead.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was also there and he would be dead from an assassin’s bullet six months later.
Among the others present were then Vice-President Al Gore with Tipper in tow, then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, British Prime Minister John Major as well as Tony Blair, who was then leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. I remember him sitting besides James Callaghan who served as Prime Minister between 1976-1979 before being defeated by Margaret Thatcher.
Twenty years have passed since I was in Hyde Park. I would imagine that most of the veterans who were present that day are no longer with us. Although their stories can be preserved their absence removes the sort of immediacy necessary to remember the horrors of the Second World War as well as the necessity to fight that war.
Today, we have enemy that seeks to destroy us every bit as much as the Nazis. Although some of these enemies take the form of nation states like Iran, al Qaeda and ISIS are not state actors (though ISIS seeks to be one). As such there won’t be formal surrender by jihadists as there was in Berlin 70 years ago. And don’t count on one from Iran. Our forthcoming nuclear agreement with Iran guarantees not only that Iran will have a nuclear weapon, but that it will never have to surrender if it comes to war.
The problem today is that much of the political class is not only unwilling to acknowledge the Islamic nature of the enemy, but to deny we have an enemy at all.
Good triumphed over evil 70 years ago today. But all such triumphs are temporary. Evil never vanishes. The same can be said for good, but it takes time for good to stand up to evil. Although we have experienced our share of economic problems, we have also enjoyed the kind of prosperity and comfort which couldn’t have been imagined 70 years ago. We are reluctant to sacrifice even relative prosperity and comfort in the face of evil. It is easier for us to pretend it isn’t there.
Eventually there will come a time when this evil cannot be ignored. But when we arrive at that state we could find ourselves on our knees. This isn’t to say we can’t get back up. But in order to get back up, we will be continually be knocked down with the objective of breaking our will. If that will is broken then so is Western civilization.
Yes, on this 70th anniversary of VE Day, we ought to celebrate the triumph of the Allies in Europe, thank those soldiers who are still among us and remember those who have passed on. But we must keep it in the back of our minds that evil always lurks. Yet our leaders (namely President Obama) do us a disservice when they insist there is nothing to see and that we are not at war with Islam even if a critical mass of it is at war with us. To quote Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
For the sake of those who defeated the Nazis seven decades ago let us not be the generation that did nothing when evil came a calling.
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