Royal British Legion tells thousands of people across Harborough – you did us proud
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The Rev John Morley, 76, spoke after jubilant residents and families held hundreds of street parties at safe social distances throughout the district on Friday May 8.
Men, women and children got together with their neighbours to pay a fantastic tribute to our Second World War generation on the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.
And the day was capped off by world-famous RAF aerobatics team the Red Arrows screaming over Market Harborough as they flew back to Lincolnshire from a sensational flypast over Buckingham Palace.
John, the president of Market Harborough Royal British Legion, told the Harborough Mail: “I want to say a very big thank you to everybody who turned out on Friday to commemorate Victory in Europe.
“The people of Harborough did our loved ones who took part in the Second World War proud.
“I saw Union Flags and bunting on our streets everywhere I looked – there was so much colour, it was brilliant.”
The retired RAF Wing Commander added: “I went along to the Memorial Gates on The Square in Market Harborough town centre to observe the two-minute silence at 11am on Friday.
“A few others turned up while there were also a couple of re-enactors – a British Army officer and a Polish air force sergeant.
“The police also came along to pay their respects.
“It’s a great shame that the coronavirus lockdown obviously stopped us staging the huge celebrations we had planned.
“But the people of Market Harborough and the likes of Lutterworth, Kibworth, Lubenham and Broughton Astley really did push the boat out to pay tribute to the men and women of 1945 and made the best of a bad job.”
Thrilled John is now calling for VE Day to be turned into an annual bank holiday.
“We should celebrate a VE75 Day plus one as it were next year to make up for the lockdown.
“All the planning had already been done for this year’s event so I’m sure it would be straightforward to roll it out,” said the veteran priest.
“VE Day should also be made into a bank holiday every year.
“We all still know people who lived through and vividly remember VE Day 75 years ago, who were there.
“So it’s far more relevant in a way than the end of the First World War in November 1918 because it’s so much more recent.”
Cllr Phil King, leader of Harborough District Council, also saluted local people for their “magnificent response” showcasing VE75 Day.
“Families and residents really did come together to mark Friday May 8 in an extraordinary way.
“The brilliant warm sunshine helped to bring so many people out to catch up with their neighbours while being sensible and keeping their distance,” said Cllr King.
“People were sharing pictures and memorabilia on social media, bringing that marvellous day in May 1945 flooding back.
“And the occasion gave older people the chance to talk about the war and the end of the war – which is maybe something they wouldn’t usually do.
“We were even lucky enough to see the amazing Red Arrows fly over Harborough.
“VE Day 75 helped to generate a real and commendable community spirit right across our district.
“We owe an immense debt of gratitude to our very special Second World War generation.
“And the people of Harborough sent them all a very powerful and personal thank you on VE75 Day.”