Liberation Day ‘reminds us of our commitment to freedom, peace and inclusivity’, the Bailiff said in his speech yesterday following what he described as a ‘tumultuous 12 months’.
Sir Timothy Le Cocq addressed the crowds in Liberation Square and spoke of the importance of ensuring that the spirit of 9 May 1945 was passed down through generations.
He said: ‘For the second year we are able to meet again in Liberation Square for this, now the 78th celebration of the liberation of Jersey from Germany occupying forces in May 1945.
‘That we have been able to meet in the traditional way and have celebrated the liberation of the Island in varying ways each year for 78 years is by itself an important symbol of continuity, of resilience and of our identity as a people.
‘Liberation Day is Jersey’s national day and even though as time goes on those with direct memories of liberation will no longer be with us, the importance of Liberation Day will continue, renewed and kept alive by new generations of Jersey people, because it will be the celebration not only of the liberation of Jersey in 1945 but also of who we are.’
He added that Jersey, as a community, cares about the ‘world around us’ and that we can ‘be proud of our overseas aid activities and our participation in international fora because surely one of the lessons of liberation is that we cannot be isolated or see ourselves as alone’.
‘We have an obligation to play as full a part as possible in the life of our world and so many Jersey people acting within the Island or indeed outside of the Island do just that,’ Sir Timothy said.
The Bailiff referred to the significance of Jersey’s relationship with the Crown and the outpouring of grief when Queen Elizabeth II died in September and the subsequent celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III this weekend.
In December, the Island was rocked by two tragedies occurring within the space of two days – the sinking of the L’Ecume II fishing trawler which led to the deaths of the three fishermen on board and the explosion at the Haut du Mont apartment block which killed ten Islanders.
Sir Timothy said: ‘I was honoured two days ago, together with His Excellency, to attend the Coronation of His Majesty the King. It was a profound and moving occasion and I was very mindful of the fact that I was standing there to play a small part in this great expression of statehood and of constitutional transition, on behalf of all of us.
‘But as filled as the last 12 months have been with the ceremonies of State and of the Crown, we were in addition touched by tragedies. I refer, of course, to the sinking of the fishing boat L’Ecume II with the loss of life attendant on it, followed shortly by the explosion at Haut du Mont with the loss of life that occurred then.
‘On the morning of the explosion, I was able to attend the Town Hall and so many people were there, seeking to volunteer, to help in whatever way they could. In the face of tragedy the people of Jersey come forward quickly and with open hearts to give whatever help they are able to give.
‘It really has been a tumultuous 12 months in many ways. But what then do we take from this? Well, Liberation Day itself reminds us of our commitment to freedom, peace and inclusivity in our society. The events of the last 12 months demonstrate our abiding connection to the Crown and also the open-hearted nature of our community at its best. Of course, I don’t think everything is perfect nor do I think we cannot improve in many, many ways, but we should not underestimate or be mindless of the enormous privilege we have in living in a beautiful place in such a community guarded by the constitutional protections and safeguards that our history and tradition has provided.
‘Liberation Day is our special day, dear to the hearts of Jersey people. It is the celebration for those who survived the Occupation and those, we, that follow them.’