Today is many things. It’s Friday. It’s May the Fourth be with you, a.k.a. Star Wars Day. For those of us in Denmark, it’s the night we have candles in the window. Granted, we do this as soon as the autumn nights draw in and keep them burning until we hardly have any night at all, but today it’s special. Today we do it because this very evening in 1945, the German troops in Denmark surrendered to the Allies. Blackout curtains were torn down and candles lit in the windows for the first time in five years.
It’s been seventy-three years and still we do it. As I sit here, I can see the candles being lit in so many of my neighbours’ windows. Still, on this night, we gather in Mindelunden outside Copenhagen where members of the Resistance were executed and which is now a memorial park for speeches and more candles.
We remember the ones who never came home. Our fallen loved ones. We remember our parents, our grandparents and the stories they told of the war. We give thanks for the freedom we have and hope we never have to live through anything like World War II.
We show respect for history.
It’s such an old adage that those who do not learn from history will be doomed to repeat it. One night of the year might not seem like a lot of remembrance, but it’s much better than no remembrance at all. When I look out and see all the lights flickering in other people’s windows, I know I am not the only one remembering.
Tradition shapes us. Makes us who we are, defines where we come from.
I hope when my son grows up he will keep the flame burning.