To the Editor:
VE Day, victory in Europe, was 75 years ago when on May 8, 1945, the Allies forced Germany into an unconditional surrender, ending the war in Europe, six years of misery, death and destruction. Nations were in ruins with cities obliterated and many millions dead, displaced and in terrible plight.
The war was two years old before America was drawn into the fray after the “infamous surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941. Hitler declared war on the U.S. just days later. We were in a war on two fronts, the Pacific and Europe.
Japan ran wild in the Pacific Ocean, capturing huge areas. Germany’s blitzkrieg seemed unstoppable as first one country, then another, fell to the Nazis. England held on by a thread with support from our Lend-Lease effort. Hitler could not defeat the Royal Air Force and turned his attention on Russia where warfare was fearsome and brutal with the Russians finally beating Germany into retreat.
We fought on the seas, in the air and stormed beaches from Normandy, North Africa across the Mediterranean up through Italy into the heart of Germany. It was total war and a costly victory as the Allies finally defeated aggressor Germany. Sixteen million Americans served in the war, and 186,000 died in the European conflict with many thousands more wounded. At home a civilian populace rolled up their sleeves, tightened belts a notch or two, often went without, but in doing so, built an infrastructure that had the world in awe. Ships, planes, tanks and armaments poured from our factories as we fed, clothed and trained a fighting force like the world has never seen.
The veterans from that era are dwindling with fewer than 400,000 left, and they die nearly 400 a day. Search one out and thank them for their service. Perhaps talk with someone that worked in a war plant. Learn something of what it was like during those uncertain days of World War II. For it certainly was a time of hardship and sacrifice, and today we are the beneficiaries of that time 75 years ago.