President Donald Trump and first lady Melania marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II on Friday by laying a wreath at the National Memorial to the Fallen.
They traveled to the visited World War II Memorial in the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to commemorate Germany’s unconditional surrender and were joined – at a distance – by eight war veterans.
The youngest 96 and the oldest 100 had defied the threats of contracting the corona virus to accompany the president and the first lady to lay the wreath.
Current service members, veterans, and the first couple adhered to the social distance guidelines on the memorial site, with the President thanking each of the veterans without making physical contact or getting too close.
No one wore a mask during the short ceremony or other personal protective equipment.
One of the veterans who came to the President was Gregory Melikian, 97, who sent the coded message to the world that the Germans had surrendered.
Also in attendance were Steven Melnikoff, 100, Guy Whidden, 97, Harold Angle, 97, and Frank Devita, 96, all of whom participated in the D-Day invasion.
Donald Halverson, 97, fought in Italy; John Coates, 96, fought in the Battle of the Bulge; and Jack Myers, 97, was part of a unit that liberated Dachau Concentration Camp – and all of them were able to speak briefly to the President during the ceremony.
Salute to the Fallen: Donald and Melania Trump have laid a wreath in memory of all those who died in World War II at the National Memorial in the Mall
Every Branch Present: All branches of the military were represented at the national commemoration of the end of World War II
Grim memory: 4,000 gold stars at the memorial mark the 400,000 Americans who lost their lives in World War II, starting with those who died in Pearl Harbor
In the Shadow of History: Donald and Melania Trump toured the monument in the National Mall, which overlooks the Lincoln Memorial
Greeting from heroes: Eight veterans had traveled to attend the memorial despite the threat of the corona virus. They stood out when a bugler played taps
Heroes: The eight World War II veterans saluted their fallen comrades at the National Memorial to the Fallen
Out of the White House: Donald Trump left the executive mansion for the second time this week, while it was Melania Trump’s first official job outside the White House
White House officials said the veterans “chose the country over themselves” by joining Trump at the commemorative ceremony of World War II.
“These heroes are living witnesses to the American spirit of perseverance and victory, especially in the middle of dark days,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day, was originally supposed to be celebrated in Moscow, Russia, but those plans were thwarted because of the pandemic.
The veterans would travel to Moscow with the President for the memorial event, but they still came from all over the country to participate in the D.C. ceremony.
Timothy Davis, the director of the Greatest Generations Foundation, who helps veterans return to the countries where they fought, said the veterans came to him and asked him to try to commemorate the day in Washington after Moscow was canceled.
“Of course we presented them with the risk we face,” said Davis. “They said,” It doesn’t matter, Tim. ‘
He added that the eight veterans saw the memorial as “a blessing to all who fought, died, and served in World War II.”
The way it was: Times Square in New York was busy when Americans responded to the joyful news that the massacre in Europe was over. But there was even more bitter struggle to end the war with Japan
Faces of Joy: This was the scene in Times Square
Prince Charles leads the salute to Britain’s fallen heroes: Country remains silent on the occasion of VE Day’s 75th anniversary and Camilla leaves handwritten to her ‘dear father’ Major Bruce Shand
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall led Britain in a solemn two-minute silence to commemorate the fallen on the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Charles, 71, and Camilla, 72, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, each placed a floral tribute on a war memorial at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, before going silent in memory of the heroes of World War II.
The moment was especially poignant for Camilla, who left a touching handwritten note to her “dear father” Major Bruce Shand, a decorated officer who fought the 12th Lancers.
The royal family and politicians today are commemorating the nation after large-scale memorial events were canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.
This morning, the Red Arrows performed a spectacular flyover over London, and at 9 p.m. the Queen will address the nation in a special broadcast from Windsor Castle.
Camilla joined her husband, Prince Charles, 71, to lay flowers at the war memorial at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, before leading the nation in a solemn two-minute silence to remember those fallen and those who fought in World War II
Prince Charles looked solemn when he laid a wreath at the monument and led the nation today in a two-minute silence
A monogram note was attached to the stems of Camilla’s bouquet, with a message recalling the service of Major Shand and the 12th Lancers, pictured
The Red Arrows conducted a spectacular flyover this morning over London and Buckingham Palace
Royal Air Force Red Arrows fly past the Runnymede Memorial in Egham, Surrey
Force red arrows flying past the statue of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square
A beautiful photo captures the Red Arrows in flight over London this morning as part of VE Day commemorations
The Houses of Parliament were silent for two minutes this morning on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day
At Balmoral, Charles wore Highland Day Dress – a Hunting Stewart kilt with a Gordon Highlanders tie and lapel badge – as well as wearing medals and neck order.
Camilla, her 4-gun dress, being a regal royal colonel, and her 12th regiment brooch of the Royal Lancers, looked bleak when she laid the flowers in Balmoral, where she and Prince Charles have been isolated for several weeks. The bouquet was hand-picked by the Duchess of the grounds of Birkhall.
A monogrammed postcard was attached to the stems of Camilla’s bouquet, saying, “In memory of my dear father and all the officers and men of the 12th Lancers who fought so bravely to give us peace. Camilla. ‘
She took a moment to remember her father, Major Bruce Shand, who joined the military in 1937 as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers and later became a decorated war hero laying her flowers. She had a close relationship with her father until his death in 2006 at the age of 89.
Charles’s handwritten message with his floral tribute read, “In Eternal Memory.”
The Queen will be addressing the country from Windsor Castle at 9pm tonight, then British will be invited to join in on a sing-along to Vera Lynn’s war classic, We’ll Meet Again.
Charles and Camilla led the way when the UK went quiet on the occasion of VE Day’s 75th anniversary
The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay are photographed this morning walking towards the Balmoral War Memorial
The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay both wore military outfits for the occasion, shown
The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay looked bleak when they marked VE Day together today in Balmoral, Aberdeenshire
The royal family observed a two-minute silence on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day at the Balmoral War Memorial
The Duke of Rothesay lays a wreath after observing a two-minute silence on the occasion of VE Day’s 75th anniversary
Prince Charles was watched by his wife laying the wreath on the war memorial in Balmoral, pictured today
Prince Charles, who has been isolated with Camilla since March, looked bleak when he laid the wreath this morning
Charles’s handwritten message with his floral tribute read, “In Eternal Memory,” depicted
The poignant moment was led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, each laying a wreath at a memorial at Balmoral
Charles and Camilla left handwritten notes, with Camilla using hers to pay tribute to her father, Major Bruce Shand
The Duchess of Cornwall placed spring flowers on the monument, which were personally picked from the garden at Birkhall by Her Royal Highness
Today’s engagement is the first time the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay have been seen outside in weeks
Charles wore Highland Day Dress – a Hunting Stewart kilt with a Gordon Highlanders tie and lapel badge – and wore medals and neck orders
How Camilla’s ‘Dear Father’ Major Shand Became a World War II Hero – and Survived a POW Camp
The Duchess’s father, Major Bruce Shand, joined the military in 1937 as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers and became a decorated war hero
The Duchess’s father, Major Bruce Shand, joined the military in 1937 as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers and became a decorated war hero.
In 1942, already decorated with the Military Cross and the bar of the early campaign in France, but when serving in North Africa, he was praised by Churchill during a surprising morale-boosting visit by the Prime Minister.
Churchill saw his medals and commented, “You are a very young man [to have won two medals]. How beautiful. But you look so skinny. ‘
Shortly afterwards, he was sent to the Libyan desert to battle the tanks of Rommel in the battle of El Alamein. He later described a meeting with the Germans in which both his sergeant and the driver of their armored car were killed.
Injured himself, he managed to jump on another scout car, but was hit again.
He recalled in his memoir, Previous Engagements, “ Something like a whiplash stung my cheek and Sergeant Francis next to me slumped into the bottom of the car with a large hole in his chest and was killed instantly …
“I don’t remember hitting the ground. A buzz of German voices greeted my return to consciousness. ‘
Shand spent the rest of the war at the PoW camp in Spangenburg: “It wasn’t Claridge’s, but at least the reception was warm,” he recalled. In fact, the regime was grim and waiting for release to be long and demoralizing, although Shand handed it out with its usual stoic charm.
Major Shand sat for the children of Camilla, Laura and Tom Parker-Bowles, and with Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Philip and the Queen, and the wedding of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in April 2005
Major Shand was daughter Camilla’s rock during turbulent times in her life. Photo: Father and daughter leave the Ritz Hotel in London in 1995
Europe commemorates VE Day in the middle of a new war: WW2 anniversary parades and parties are scaled back as the continent focuses on winning its latest battle – against Covid-19
European countries today mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany – amid a new war on the continent against the corona virus.
Parades and public celebrations have been scaled back or canceled altogether on a continent that has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic, with 1.6 million cases and more than 150,000 deaths reported there.
French President Emmanuel Macron led the celebrations in Paris by laying a wreath in front of a statue of General Charles de Gaulle before heading to the tomb of the unknown soldier under the Arc du Triomphe.
Accompanied by former Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, alongside military leaders and other distancing politicians, he listened to an acapella version of La Marseillaise before laying a tricolor wreath.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in a wreath laying ceremony in Berlin today – after the residents of the city received an unprecedented holiday on the occasion of this occasion.
FRANCE: Emmanuel Macron led a toned ceremony on VE-Day in Paris on Friday, first by laying a wreath at a statue of General Charles de Gaulle and then another at the tomb of the unknown soldier in the Arc du Triomphe (photo )
Macron looks up at a statue of General Charles de Gaulle from wartime after putting a wreath on it in Paris
Macron was joined during the ceremonies by former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, along with other politicians and military figures, after major parades were canceled
Macron addresses former Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande among other prominent politicians, as they keep their distance during VE-Day parties in Paris
GERMANY: Angela Merkel lays a wreath at the Neue Wache Memorial in Berlin after the city had an unprecedented holiday to mark the end of Nazism and Germany’s return to democracy
Merkel and other prominent politicians lay wreaths for an enlarged replica of Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture Mother with her dead son at the monument to the victims of war and dictatorship in Berlin, Germany, on VE-Day
BELGIUM: King Philippe and Queen Mathilde (center) lay a wreath at the grave of the unknown soldier in Brussels to commemorate the end of World War II in Europe
As with most other European countries, Belgium’s memorials were closed to the public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (photo)
POLAND: A Polish veteran attends wreath-laying on the occasion of the victory over Nazi Germany at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Lublin, Eastern Poland
RUSSIA: Officials participate in wreath-laying at a monument to Field Marshal Gregory Zhukov, who led the Red Army during World War II, in the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia
Germany typically doesn’t celebrate May 8 – meaning the unconditional surrender of Hitler’s troops – but this year, on a public holiday in Berlin, it decided to mark the country’s liberation from Nazism and its return to democracy.
Merkel, along with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will lay wreaths in Neue Wache – the country’s premier memorial to the victims of war and dictatorship, followed by a speech by the President.
Macron had previously urged the French public not to attend public celebrations, but instead to hang flags and decorate their windows and balconies in tribute.
Large-scale parades across Europe have been scrapped, drastically downsized, or moved online as the continent struggles with the worst crisis since World War II – this time an invisible enemy that has made more than 3.7 million sick worldwide.
Because veterans were already very old, marching organizers had considered it too risky for them to attend events, even in countries that have started easing closure measures.
Russia originally planned a major military performance on Victory Day on May 9, with world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron on the guest list.
But now a flypast will only take place over Red Square as the country becomes Europe’s new hotspot for coronavirus infections.
Two people walk among the gravestones of some 8,000 American troops who died fighting in Europe at Henri Chapelle’s Belgian cemetery during World War II on VE Day
Soldiers at a flower-laying ceremony at a monument to Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov on the occasion of VE-Day in Yakerterinburg, Russia
Voertuigen op weg naar een bloemlegging bij een monument voor Sovjet-maarschalk Georgy Zhukov in Jekaterinenburg
De erewacht als Poolse veteranen legt bloemen bij het Monument van de onbekende soldaat op het Litouwse plein, in het oosten van Polen
Veteraan Anatoly Dikovich, 94, wordt buiten zijn huis toegezongen tijdens een optreden van leden van de 120e Rogachev Guards Mechanised Brigade van de Belarussische strijdkrachten als onderdeel van VE Day-vieringen
Veteranen houden de Franse nationale vlag vast als ze deelnemen aan de ceremonie voor de 75e verjaardag van de overwinning van de Tweede Wereldoorlog in Europa bij het Monument voor de Doden in de stad Nice aan de Franse Rivièra
Burgemeester van Nice Christian Estrosi houdt een toespraak tijdens de ceremonie voor de 75e verjaardag van de overwinning van de Tweede Wereldoorlog in Europa bij het Monument voor de Doden
Russisch-orthodoxe priesters verzamelen zich bij een Sovjet-oorlogsmonument in een park in Berlijn, Duitsland, tijdens een teruggeschakelde ceremonie ter gelegenheid van VE Day, of 75 jaar sinds de onvoorwaardelijke overgave van nazi-Duitsland aan de geallieerden
Two women hold carnations before laying them at the Soviet war memorial in Berlin, which commemorates thousands of Red Army troops who were killed liberating the city from the Nazis in 1945
An American flag is positioned next to the French tricolore on a bullet-damaged statue in the village of Bennwhir, eastern France, which was liberated by the US Army in December 1944
Belarusian servicemen drive tanks along the street in a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Minsk, celebrated a day later on May 9
Veterans salute at a memorial to those killed during the Second World War in Lille, northern France, on VE-Day
Graves of French soldiers killed during the Second World War are seen at a military cemetery in Sigolshiem, eastern France
A worker washes a monument to Russian soldiers killed fighting in the Second World War in Vladivostok, far eastern Russia, on VE Day. Russia traditionally marks the victory a day later, on May 9
The Belarusian air force leads Aero L-39 Albatros jets during a military parade rehearsal ahead of Victory Day in Minsk, which is celebrated on May 9
Russia typically sees one of the largest parades in Europe on Victory Day – its own day of celebration on May 9 – but that has been postponed due to coronavirus (pictured, a worker washes a memorial in Vladivostok)
President Vladimir Putin will lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial, before making a TV address which will not only touch on the war, but is also expected to chart out the country’s next steps on battling the virus.
Elsewhere, COVID-19 continues to make its presence felt.
In the US, President Donald Trump and his wife Melania will join a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II memorial in Washington, DC.
The US Department of Defense will hold an online commemoration thank WWII veterans that will be streamed on Facebook and Twitter.
In the Czech Republic, where a lockdown has been completely lifted, politicians will be arriving at 10-minute intervals to lay wreaths on Prague’s Vitkov Hill, to minimize contact.
Ceremonies across France have been drastically scaled down, although Macron will still be attending an event on the Champs-Elysees.
In Britain, street parades by veterans have been cancelled.
Queen Elizabeth II will make a televised address to the nation at 9:00 pm (2000 GMT), the same time that her father, king George VI, gave a radio address marking VE day in 1945.
Her son and heir, Prince Charles, will also read an extract from the king’s diary from the day, which covers the royal family’s appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as massive crowds celebrated in the streets below.
That evening, the future queen – then known as Princess Elizabeth – and her sister Margaret were given permission to leave the palace and join the festivities.
Members of the armed forces are seen saluting during a service at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London as the UK marks VE-Day with toned-down parades
The Royal Air Force Red Arrows pass over the Horseguards Parade outside Buckingham Palace during a flypast in central London to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
The French national flag decorates the Eiffel Tower as part of the VE Day ceremonies in Paris