Dame Vera Lynn, the iconic Forces’ Sweetheart who raised national morale during the war years, has urged Britons to call on that same community spirit and selflessness to see them through the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“We all did our bit back during the war, and we sacrificed a great deal for one another,” said Dame Vera on Friday, as she celebrated her 103rd birthday.
“Many of our brave boys made the ultimate sacrifice. Fortunately, we can make choices today that will limit the impact of coronavirus by changing the way we live for the next few months,” she added, in comments reported by the Telegraph.
“I think we would benefit from that same selfless spirit, working together for the common good.
“The secret to getting through any crisis is always the same: to come together to help one another,” she explained.
Yesterday I asked ‘Who’ll be the Dame Vera Lynn’ of this crisis.
Turns out it’s Dame Vera Lynn.
— Geoff Norcott (@GeoffNorcott) March 20, 2020
“During the war, being kind and having that sense of community spirit went a very long way. It helped us to live through dark times and it helped us to win, and I am sure it can help us again now,” Dame Vera continued.
“We all need to do our bit by following the government’s sensible advice by limiting our social contact with others, whilst still lending as much help and support to others as we can.”
The Essex-born singer, who lifted British servicemen’s spirits in far-flung warzones such as Burma and Egypt during the 1940s, recommended that elderly Britons, who have been urged to self-isolate, spend time in their gardens, if they have them, and reading books — and suggested younger Britons should “rediscover the lost art of letter writing to keep older people company in the months ahead.”
“[R]eceiving a lovely message from someone has always meant so much to me,” she explained.
Dame Vera also encouraged people “not to let coronavirus dominate their lives entirely”, saying that they “must go on living and find moments of joy even in these dark times” — and, quoting one of the most famous lines from her wartime hit ‘Well Meet Again’, “keep smiling through.”
"I feel very fortunate to have reached 103, and my day will be made all the more special by hearing from people all around the world."
— SSAFA (@SSAFA) March 20, 2020