I’ve always loved that WWII song “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when …”. If you’re too young to know about it, take a minute to listen here. It’s a sweet mix of hope and melancholy. The Queen’s speech yesterday evoked a connection to a time when the western world was called on to tap into our reserves of “resolve”, “self-discipline”, “fellow feeling”, and ability to work “together”.
“Together we are tackling this disease,” she said. “If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.” As the royal correspondent to the BBC put it “This was not a warrior-queen’s speech; it was about collective effort.”
I’ve often wondered what it must have felt like to live through the dark and uncertain days of WWII. Looking back from the vantage point of victory and post-war economic success, it’s hard to imagine that the outcome did not seem inevitable in the middle of the crisis. The raw feelings of hardship, doubt and despair has been dulled by the passage of time, and the passing of the generation that lived through it.
The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps giving us a glimpse into some of our grandparents’ and parents’ struggles during that war. They were uniquely shaped by that experience. They have been called “The Greatest Generation”, as if we could never surpass their achievement or grit. Maybe we will get to prove ourselves too?
I found the Queen’s speech a welcome, soothing antidote to the political finger-pointing and chaotic leadership I read about in the US press everyday. She’s calling on the “Britons” to come together to overcome. This is a message needed even more desperately across the Atlantic in a country built on rugged individualism. The speech is a very straight, low-tech, unglitzy, zero drama delivery. It’s a message of “we shall overcome”, and this is how.
It’s worth listening to. You won’t regret taking 4 minutes out of your day to hear some great-grandmotherly wisdom in this clip (Click HERE).