Today is our national Liberation Day, which used to be the celebration of the end of World War Two. Over the years, its meaning has been evolving. Today, we celebrate liberty, democracy and human rights in general. Or do we?
My grandmother used to love telling stories, most of which were set in World War Two. They weren't heroic or anything. They were just stories about normal people who tried to survive among the rubble of their home town. If she were alive today, I am unsure how she would have felt about our current national holiday.
You see, as of today, Liberation Day feels slightly imposed by the government. Sure, there's concerts with mediocre bands that are being organized all over the countries. The military can show off a bit and as long as they are still alive, WW2 veterans are being allowed to have their say. Of course, our royal family must do some PR business just to convince that yes, they do have charisma and we should be good little patriots and acknowledge them.
But all those pesky holidays in April and May were getting a bit too much and some 10 years ago, the Prime Minister at the time was a religious person. Instead of discarding one of the mostly meaningless religious holidays, he redefined Liberation Day as a moment of reflection on being free. To appease his cough liberal coalition partner, this holiday was made into an official vacation day once every five years.
Or was it? Four out of five years we may reflect on liberty at work. Yay! As for the fifth year, many people have to work anyway. I happen to know that garages are doing business, supermarkets open their doors and so do many other retailers. There are collective labour agreements that explicitly discard Liberation Day.
For me, Liberation Day has lost its meaning. I am happy to live in a country whose biggest enemy is its own corporate culture. It is slightly ironic that we may (or may not) reflect on our liberty, which basically means doing our daily jobs. I personally try to give it some meaning by remembering my grandmother's stories. Not because the government tells me to, but because there were valuable lessons in those stories: liberty has a price. It was paid off over 70 years ago, so I can rant in peace.