Britain and America rebuilt a world in ruins… and together we’ll do it again

This op-ed by Ambassador Johnson appeared in the May 07, 2020 edition of The Sun newspaper.

AMBASSADOR JOHNSON:  Seventy-five years ago, the streets of Britain and America were filled with war-weary citizens celebrating the end of the long and terrible conflict in Europe.

Sadly, we cannot hold street parties this year, but coronavirus will not stop us coming together in our homes and on our doorsteps to celebrate the triumph of the Allied forces, a monumental achievement in our shared history.

As our wartime veterans remain in isolation and we battle to protect them from the virus, there has never been a more important time for us to join together, from Cornwall to California, to show what Americans call “the Greatest Generation” how proud and grateful we are for their tremendous service to freedom and democracy.

They were part of the greatest alliance the world has ever seen.

On the front lines and on the home front, millions of ordinary people joined forces around the world to bring the horrors of Nazi tyranny to an end.

Today we remember with sadness the many millions of lives that were lost or torn apart over the course of the war, including the abhorrent genocide inflicted on the Jewish people and other communities.

We also recognise that, for many behind the Iron Curtain, 1945 was not a year of liberty, but a year of violence and aggression as Soviet troops stepped into the places vacated by the Nazi forces.

Today we renew our pledge to continue the global fight against hatred, persecution and oppression.

And we salute the exceptional service and sacrifice of that wartime generation of our citizens, who stepped up then to fight for the liberty of others, united in common purpose.

As we find ourselves in times of crisis once again, it is impossible not to think of what it took for that Greatest Generation to achieve victory against impossible odds.

Industry was radically reconfigured to produce desperately needed military equipment. Our top scientists and inventors developed new technologies.

Those who could not serve overseas volunteered on farms to help feed our nations.

And in unprecedented numbers, women stepped up to serve in field hospitals, factories, fire departments and civil defence stations.

Commitment, innovation and self-sacrifice, are what made that first VE Day possible — and that is exactly what we are seeing again today.

Medical workers, grocery store clerks and bus drivers are stepping up in service to others to defend against Covid-19.

People are observing social distancing in order to keep others safe.

Neighbours are taking care of neighbours.

We are also seeing the same tremendous innovation we saw during World War Two.

Scientists are racing against the clock to develop therapies and vaccines.

Hospitals are being built in record time.

Schools are finding new ways to continue to educate our young people remotely.

We are even seeing the modern return of the Victory Gardens, as families across our countries plant fresh fruit and vegetables in gardens and window boxes.

And, someday soon, we will all meet again, and raise a glass to the heroes of today, and the heroes of World War Two.

That greatest of generations will remain our guiding inspiration — not only on account of their heroism and sacrifice during the war, but also their resilience and resolve after it.

When countries across the world lay in ruins after the war, with industries and economies on their knees, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work to rebuild and re-emerge stronger than before.

That is exactly what we will do as soon as the lockdown is over. Just this week, our governments kicked off the formal process to start negotiating a huge US-UK trade deal.

Trade is at the heart of our shared prosperity on which our shared security is built. Working side by side, as we always do, there is no limit to the opportunities and prosperity our countries will create.

So on a day when we celebrate the heroes and victories of the past, we are also looking forward to the future and laying the groundwork for a new era of success in the special relationship.