Seventy-five years ago today, the Allies accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces, ending World War II in Europe. This event is known as V-E Day, for Victory in Europe.
Today would have seen large celebrations of gratitude and festivities honoring the living veterans of the war. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced these events to be staged mostly online. Queen Elizabeth II is delivering a televised message. And students in France are doing what they can to honor those who liberated their nation from the Nazi occupation.
They started writing last year to veterans in Britain, thanking them for taking part in the Normandy invasion. Now that the students and the elderly men are living under lockdown, they have been sharing stories about their lives during the pandemic.
One of the veterans had his daughter take videos of him around the house while he identified what he saw so the students could work on their English. He also began studying French so he could talk with them in their language.
His exchanges with the French teenagers “let daylight into this dark time of lockdown,” he said.
What if Hitler had won?
My father fought in World War II, though he was stationed in the South Pacific and did not see action in the European theater. My grandfather, however, fought in World War I and thus contributed directly to winning what was called at the time the “Great War.”
Neither of them would speak of their service. Both witnessed horrific atrocities and paid an emotional price for the rest of their lives.
After 30 trips to Israel, it remains impossible for me to imagine the horrors of the Holocaust. Now imagine a world in which Hitler won the war. Imagine his murderous insanity foisted on Europe and America.
This day reminds us that we owe the soldiers who fought and died to defeat Nazi Germany a debt we can never repay. But we can pay it forward.
When I meet a military veteran, I always make an intentional effort to thank them personally for their sacrifice. Nearly always, they respond by telling me that it was an honor for them to serve.
I will never forget the response of one wounded veteran. He had suffered burns over his face and upper body from an IED in Iraq. He would live for the rest of his life with the scars and pain of his service. When I thanked him for his sacrifice, he shook my hand and said: “Just do what you can to make this a country worth dying for.”
How can we do what he asked us to do?
Dr. Jim Denison is the CVO of Denison Forum. His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 200,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries.