Southend-on-Sea marks D-Day 80 with beacon lighting

The Southend-on-Sea community gathered together last night at the Cenotaph on Clifftown Parade, as a beacon was lit to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

A lit beacon with the sky and trees in the background

Beacons were lit across the United Kingdom at 9.15pm in celebration of the ‘light of peace’ that emerged out of the darkness of war.

This moving ceremony was an opportunity for us all to remember the 209,000 Allied casualties of the largest naval, air and land operation in history.

Cllr Ron Woodley, Mayor of Southend-on-Sea gave the following welcome speech.

"As the Mayor of Southend-on-Sea, it is my great honour to stand before you today as we gather to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a day that changed the course of history and shaped the world we live in today.

"Eighty years ago, on June 6, 1944, brave soldiers from across the Allied nations embarked on a mission of unparalleled courage and sacrifice. They stormed the beaches of Normandy, facing unimaginable odds, to liberate Europe from tyranny and oppression. Their valour and determination laid the foundation for the freedoms we cherish today.;

"Tonight, as we join villages, towns and cities across the United Kingdom to light this beacon, we do so in remembrance of those who fought and those who fell. We honour their legacy and the enduring spirit of unity and resilience that they embodied. This beacon is not just a symbol of light, but a beacon of hope, a reminder of the strength that comes from standing together in the face of adversity. It is a symbol of the light of peace that emerged from the darkness of war.;

"We are privileged to have veterans and their families with us this evening. Their presence is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made and the bravery shown. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid, but we can strive to honour their legacy by upholding the values of freedom, democracy, and peace.

"As we look around us, we see a community united in remembrance and respect. Let us take this moment to reflect on the lessons of the past and commit ourselves to building a future that honours the sacrifices of those who came before us.

"Before we light the beacon I wanted to extend my sincerest thanks to all those who have organised tonight’s ceremony. I know how much hard work goes into an event like this and it really is much appreciated. Special thanks go to our local Army reserve unit, 217 Field Squadron for all their help, particularly for their assistance in assisting me in lighting the beacon shortly. Also, I would like to thank the Southend Band and joint choirs from across Southend for their poignant musical support this evening.

"Thank you all for being here tonight. Together, let us light this beacon as a symbol of our collective memory and our unwavering commitment to a brighter, more peaceful world."

An event is also taking place on Saturday 8th June. Read more on our events page.

Published: 7th June 2024

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