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Today marks the 75th anniversary of VE-Day, the day that Nazi Germany surrendered to the allies in Europe. VE stands for Victory in Europe, as the Second World War continued in Japan until August of 1945. Normally there would be a litany of celebrations around the world to celebrate this moment in history however the pandemic has made that a little more challenging this year.
On this day 75 years ago, people throughout Europe were flocking into the streets to celebrate the end of an almost six-year war that cost the lives of millions of innocent people. This year social distancing will make such commemorative celebrations almost impossible.
"There is a very important day coming for us, VE-Day, and I would like to commend those governments who have made the brave decision to postpone parades, to put health at the centre," said Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the World Health Organization. "We have great respect for that date... but we need not to jeopardize human lives."
The virus has forced some leaders to get creative in order to celebrate while adhering to social distancing protocols. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lit a candle on Thursday night in Westminster Abbey in remembrance of all those who fell in the war.
The UK government also launched a website to give its citizens ways to celebrate at home, such as resources to make posters and bunting. English Heritage, a cultural organization, has put together a special Spotify playlist of popular music at the time to go along with dance stapes and some recipes from the 1940's.
As for the parades and usual festivities, they will be moved to a later date so they may be given a proper celebration.
Mark O'Neill, president and CEO of the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History, released a video speaking on Canada's connection with the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the 15th anniversary of the War Museum.
In France, President Macron laid a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier in a small celebration in Paris. The ceremony was closed to all but a handful of officials. Social distancing measures were in place for those who attended and a small military choir sang the Marseillaise.
In Germany, Chancellor Merkel held a ceremony at Neue Wache, their central war memorial, which honours the victims of war as well as victims of dictatorship.
During the ceremony, German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "Today, we Germans are allowed to say: the day of liberation is a day of gratitude!"
On May 9 a similar celebration, known as Victory Day, will be held in several former Soviet countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Over 50 million lives were taken during the Second World War, and it's estimated that 25 million of those were either from the Soviet military or their civilians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, had organized a major parade to take place on Saturday in Moscow that would have been attended by President Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping, however the pandemic cancelled the arrangement.
Russia's airforce will instead fly over as Putin lays flowers in Moscow's Red Square war memorial.