The villagers of Lower Strangling stood around the War Memorial once again just as they did three months earlier, but this time to remember VJ Day; the day the entire Second World War actually ended.
“Today we celebrate the end of the worst war in human history, but we also remember specifically the soldiers from Lower Strangling who were sent to the far east to help with the war effort over there, and whose efforts were not properly appreciated when they returned to the village, because as far as the villagers were concerned the war ended on the 8th March and what happened afterwards did not mean much to them”, the Rev Simon Abernathy proclaimed to the villagers who were just as bemused as to why they were remembering VJ Day and the original villagers in 1945.
The only reason Lower Strangling even has a VJ Day service is because Simon felt the he needed to commemorate the day the war actually ended and the soldiers who felt that their efforts weren’t particularly recognised as they were thousands of miles away from Europe, Britain, and Hitler.
There was also another reason Simon wanted to remember VJ Day.
“A lot of people probably believe the war ended on the 8th May when Nazi Germany was defeated, and yes that was when the war in Europe ended, but the war continued in the east for another three months until…. until…” Simon took a gulp as he thought about the horrifying incident, he then felt ready to continue his sermon, “until the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings lead the Japanese troops to surrender a week later, bringing a swift end to the Second World War.”
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a topic close to Simon’s heart, as it was those events that led him one of the paths he took in life; campaigning against the use of Nuclear weapons.
Simon was born 24 years after the events, but he was alive during the Cold War which was a result of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He learned about the bombings and was so horrified by what he read that he vowed to help make sure it never happened again.
Of course, the bombs created during the Cold War were far worse, and could actually end the world as we knew it, but the original Atomic Bomb was bad enough. Simon was one of the few people on the front lines who protested Trident; the UK’s own nuclear deterrent.
Of course, shortly after that Simon decided to become ordained and spent several years on sabbatical in Lindisfarne, but even though he was just a small village vicar, Simon used his sermons to promote his anti-nuclear weapons views.
“Although the bomb brought a swift end to the Second World War, it marked the beginning of humans having the power to end civilisation with a single bomb. The Atomic bombs were nowhere near as bad as the bombs that were created later, but they still caused misery for innocent Japanese people”, Simon continued.
“Oh, here he goes again with his hippy agenda”, Robert the brewer said quietly to John the owner of the Hangman’s Noose.
“Well, he does have a point”, John replied.
“Yeah, I suppose he does”, Robert responded.
He then stood silently and listened to Simon’s sermon.
“Although all out nuclear destruction is, fortunatly, extremely unlikely, it is not entirely impossible until world wide nuclear disarmament, including here in the UK. We must make sure that happens”, Simon concluded before finishing the memorial service with a short prayer.
“Ok, everyone, let’s all go into the Hangman’s Noose for a pint”, John annouced once everyone was walking away from the memorial.
“We’d love to, but we need to pack for our holiday to Sussex”, Dave told John.
“Sure, that’s fine. Enjoy your holiday,” John replied.
With that, the Petersons walked back to their manor in order to pack. Everyone else entered the pub, donning face masks of course.
“Well, Simon, great sermon as always, but I must say it was quite morbid,” John told the vicar as he passed him his Throckmorton Ale.
“Well, I did say the nuclear war was extremely unlikely, but I understand,” Simon responded to John, “but it’s the same with Climate Change, the only way to make people want change is to tell them what could happen if they don’t”.
“Yes, I guess so,” John mused to himself as he drunk his beer.
And with that, the villagers of Lower Strangling and others had a refreshing cold pint in the Hangman’s Noose after what was a disturbing hour around the war memorial.