All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 8 May 2005

Why Is This Year Different?

A sea of people.

Walking up the Mall, on the way to Buckingham Palace, I turned around to look at the mass of men, women and children following me. The air was filled with electricity and I tried to envisage what it must have felt like, all those years ago, making your way to the Palace to see the King and Queen on the balcony and sharing the occasion that was May 8th 1945.

May 8th 1995 was no doubt different, but it was memorable just the same. I didn't manage to see the Queen as she was too far away, but I heard Cliff Richard live (please don't feel too envious) and I found myself, amongst the throngs, standing behind a Hassid. I guess we guys get everywhere.

The RAF fly-by was incredible, except that my agrophobia got a little in the way. That said, it was a momentous occasion and at the time, we never cared to think that ten years on, the anniversary wouldn't merit the same sort of celebration.

I have a bit of problem with commemorations. Does the fact that the War finished sixty instead of fifty years ago today, mean that we should be celebrating any less? The people who died are now dead for an extra ten years, so does that make their death any more acceptable?
The others who risked their lives are now ten years older. Why was their courage not given the same "media spotlight" this time around?

Maybe it's a Jewish thing but for us, every single anniversary is given the same respect. We treat each Tisha B'av as though the Temple was destroyed this year. Each Yom Haatzmaut, Israel's re-birth is celebrated in the same way. The Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah) remembered the same souls in 2005 as in 2004 and the pain of the Holocaust is just as acute, if not more so, than ten years ago.

My point? Let's treat each occasion in the same way. I don't mean that we should have the Queen appearing on the balcony every single May 8th, but there is something incongruous in making such a big deal on the 50th Anniversary and yet, virtually ignoring the 60th one. Why isn't there another Bank Holiday, like there was in 1995? Why aren't people going to the Palace this year?

Why does this bother me so?

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