Truly, Lynn is going to go down in British history as a symbol of spirit and determination. However, among these amazing feats she accomplished in her life, there’s one that has stood out the most: her role in politics.
Be it through online tributes or spectacles of crowds singing her famous song ‘We’ll Meet Again’, many are fondly reminiscing over this incredible woman. She boosted the country’s morale through her singing in times of uncertainty and darkness; indeed, it earned her the title as “The Forces Sweetheart” in WW2, and Queen Elizabeth herself referenced her music during her speech to the public regarding the Coronavirus outbreak.
Vera Lynn, growing up in a time of patriotic, anti-fascist emotion, has also become somewhat of an icon in dispelling divisive politics. Her 100th birthday (in 2017) was the same year as Brexit negotiations and Trump’s presidency; a year (as argued in this opinion piece) in which stirring “xenophobia” caused it to be “a lot more like 1937 than many of us would like to think”.
This drawing of parallels between the past and present is nothing new.
A very relevant example would be the way in which many, in light of the fairly recent VE Day 75th Anniversary, have drawn similar allusions between this pandemic and Britain in WW2. After all, were the evacuations in which children were distanced from their families all that different from the distanced feel of self-isolation today?
However, these connected memories of past and present are not all that bitter.
In dark times of political uncertainty, we find comfort in calling back to historical figures such as Lynn. Her music, just as it did then, ignites a collective spirit within many; a spirit of community. Lynn shows us the light in the darkness; she counters the divisive nature of politics in both wartime and contemporary Britain through her reminder in music-form to stand by one another when the going gets tough. On both sides of the Brexit debate, as with the austerity debate and any debate to come or go, we must remember that we are all human and it is that fact that unites one another.
Of course, many will argue that this is all Pollyanna-thinking; one cannot, after all, deny hard realism, no matter how much they chant the lyrics to “The White Cliffs of Dover”. However, I argue that this is not the point of Lynn’s music. In times of hazy, controversial politics which seem to alienate people from each other, we as humans find comfort and union in powerful artists. Vera Lynn is undoubtedly one such artist; a woman whose aim in life was to bring a smile onto the faces of many.
Rest in peace, Dame Vera Lynn. Keep smiling through, just like you always did and, in our hearts, will forever do.