A solemn, dignified and unpublicised event took place in Stornoway just before 3pm on Friday afternoon (May 8) to mark VE Day, 75 years after the event.
Present were Sgt Major Tommy Stewart, 7 Scots, Western Isles Army Reserve; Malcolm Macmillan, Flag Bearer - Stornoway Branch British Legion & Merchant Navy Association; Donnie Maciver, Stornoway Branch British Legion and RAFA; Gavin Woods (Bugler) Music Instructor, Education Dept; Anna Murray, (Piper) Music Instructor, Education Dept; and Lord Lieutenant of the Isles Donald Martin with his wife Sandra.
A handful of passing members of the public stood outside the fence of the Army Reserve Hall in Church Street, all at suitable social distancing under the coronavirus regulations.
welovestornoway.com asked Donald Martin what he would have said, had this been a full-scale public event. He told us that his words would have included the following:
"On Tuesday 8 May 1945, Islanders joined the nation to rejoice and celebrate the long awaited news that the war in Europe was over. In his address to the nation later that afternoon the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill ended his address by saying “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead”.
"These words seemed just as relevant today, Friday 8 May 2020, when the 75th anniversary of VE Day is commemorated throughout the country with a number of low-key public events, involving as few people as possible, in recognition of the current Coronavirus lockdown and restrictions on public gatherings and social distancing.
"This significant milestone would normally have been marked by a series of well-attended public events, giving us the opportunity to remember, reflect, give thanks and pay tribute to all those who had contributed to the outcome of the Second World War.
"Many of us in the Western Isles know only too well of close relatives and friends who lost their lives fighting for King and Country and those who gave up their own freedom for the liberties we have enjoyed for the past 75 years. We remember them today as well as the few survivors still with us who know through painful experiences the horrors of war and its aftermath.
"Their legacy will never be forgotten which is why, even in today’s unique and enforced circumstances, we are able to pay our respects and our thanks by observing a moment of remembrance here at the Drill Hall in Stornoway, this afternoon.
"I am aware a similar period of reflection was held earlier this morning at the War Memorial in Tarbert. In the words of HM The Queen in Her VE Day message – We should and will remember them."