Rushville Republican

May 13, 2014

Remembering the end of WWII


Rushville Republican

---- — I doubt if a lot of you out there would remember just what did occur on May 7, 1945. Heck, I have a hard time remembering what I did yesterday let alone 69 years ago. It actually had something to do with Dec. 7, 1941 and took a huge toll of people through out the world, 50 million to 60 million lives. It eventually involved almost all the countries of the world in one way or another. On May 7 1945, World War II had its first and biggest event, Germany surrendered to the Allies. Hitler had killed himself and his new wife and his country had finally gotten the ability to stop the carnage and destruction they had brought about.

Germany, Italy, almost all of Europe including Russia were in dire straights economically and politically. What were allies at first were now rapidly becoming enemies and would remain so for over 40 years. The German Army felt they needed to be helped, to get able to help the Americans to beat the Russians, they evidently saw something there we did not. Europe was largely rubble and destruction and the people were tired and ready to stop fighting. But they also knew Japan was still viable and still able to cause havoc in their area of the world and seemed to have no desire to quit fighting. England and the U.S. along with China and New Zealand, Australia and others in the Pacific area were ready to get this thing over with and back to normal.

I have a vivid memory of decking out my new Schwinn bicycle with red, white and blue bunting, putting all types of patriotic items numerous flags in a wagon to pull along behind my bike. Several others in the neighborhood, Bob Shields, Ray and Carl Evans, Reed Caldwell and others were right there along with me. We paraded up and down 13th Street singing, beating on pots and pans, waving flags and not being fully aware of just what we were celebrating. We knew something big had happened and mom was hoping my brother would be home soon. He flew B-17s during the war. Many other families we knew were hoping against hope that their loved ones would be coming home soon, that death would no longer be something everyone dreaded. Western Union Telegrams were at times bad news, a loved one had been killed or wounded neither of which was a good thing.

We all knew Japan was going to be a blood bath if we had to invade their homeland and the estimates of the casualties were in the millions. We were happy, but sad too, because we knew half the war was over, but the other half looked like it would be a long drawn out situation, one that would cause many more families to lose loved ones. We were too young to realize just what was going on and why so many adults were happy, but still had the look of dread on their faces this glorious day a day of celebration and reflection.

As it turned out, Japan was literally bombed by the Atom Bomb into submission before the year was out. But the horrible effect of that bomb would haunt the world to this day. It may have won the war with Japan, but it also started the war that could if it got out of hand cause the destruction of the planet and all of those who lived here. It ushered in the Atomic Age. The age of ships that run for years on one load of fuel, submarines that regularly prowl under the seas and ice of the world. We have power plants fueled by atomic energy and satellites that are too. And we have the prospect of complete annihilation hanging over us today. Russia, China, Pakistan, Israel, France and Britain even North Korea have the bomb and Iran is working on it. The big powers to me are not the problem those little rogue states are.

With the capitulation of Japan, World War II ended with much the same angst as it had started and with the same country that had indeed started every thing going. Japan, Germany, and all our European allies were devastated and in dire economic straits. We were the only country not torn apart by the war, the war we fought and won through perseverance and industry. A country that when all was said and done came to the help of all the rest of the world, our enemies as well as our allies were the beneficiaries of our help industrial as well as with food and safety of our huge at the time Armed Forces.

Today we are facing a situation worse than what we did with WWII, one that so easily could engulf us all and leave our world in such a mess I would think life would be destroyed mostly. We think things are more sophisticated now, but are they? That we can now get out of Afghanistan and Iraq and allow our Army and Navy and Air Force to basically become third world entities. Not something I think we should do, but who am I to tell those who say this is what should be?

Note May 8 was officially designated as VE or Victory Europe Day, but the German nation signed the surrender agreement on May 7.