They have since resonated amongst the British public as we have watched in dismay as friends, family and loved ones have succumbed to this deadly Virus.
Seeing images and memories of those recalling Victory in Europe Day, last Friday, it was striking how the words of hope, pride, duty and resilience spoken by the veterans of the war, outweighed their sadness and sense of loss. They had experienced horrors during those war years which we cannot begin to imagine.
They did their duty and took on the enemy with such bravery, and in most cases under indescribably conditions, whether in the desert, the jungle, the trenches, on the beaches, or in the air and sea.
Pilots and crew set off from tiny airfields to cross the channel to defend our skies and stop the advancing enemy, time and again. And those who set to sea in war ships, small ships for the D-Day invasion, or merchant vessels, all faced equally harrowing danger.
None knew if they would return to their homes and loved ones – far too many never did - they made the ultimate sacrifice, defending King and country.
For their families the celebrations on 8th May 1945 were bitter sweet. The war was coming to an end. Great Britain and its allies were safe, but the cost was enormous and a deep sadness lived within the hearts of so many, often until their dying days as their loved ones never did come home.
Many of us will have experienced the consuming sense of loss and sadness suffered by parents and grandparents, who never forgot, despite moving on with their lives. Families lost fathers, sons, mothers and daughters. Many wives lost husbands in the WW1 and then their sons in WW2, as happened in our family.
WW2 was brutal – a war where far more casualties amongst civilians than combatants took their toll, through inhumane genocide and collateral damage.
At home men were conscripted to work in the coal mines, the Bevin Boys, and women worked in factories. Merchant seamen sailed the hazardous route back and forth to America bringing much needed food and other essentials.
And those clearing unexploded bombs from the cities, the medics and auxiliaries tending to the sick and dying in field hospitals. Many lives were lost whilst trying to keep the country’s essential services, food and power supplies maintained, as well as those whose homes took direct hits from German bombs.
It was then and still is today, as we are inconvenienced by being asked to stay home or stay alert to the dangers, to protect the NHS, our key workers and the vulnerable, that it is our sense of duty, pride and resilience which prevails. As the Queen said on Friday, ‘Our streets are not empty, they are filled with love’.
It is too easy to criticise, find fault and shout angrily from the safety of kitchens, studios, microphones, newsprint and the anonymity of social media. Most do so with the hindsight of tunnelled vision, political bias and or, from a selfish ‘what about me’, perspective.
The Prime Minister, his ministers and key advisers, unlike the aforesaid, are making decisions - having sought out, observed and received crucial intelligence - which they consider to be the right advice to keep the public safe and our economy on life support.
Boris has listened and decided to trust the public to do the right thing, make the right choices, take the initiative, and act responsibly. The proviso being that if we step out of line, take risks and act irresponsibly causing a rise in infection, he will, with immediate effect reintroduce – Stay Home.