I was originally going to let this go and get it next year… I was working on something else. But this is afterall the 70th Anniversary of V.E. Day (that’s Victory in Europe Day to those of you who are new to this Blog), and I just couldn’t let it go. So here is a compilation of records of how this truly momentous day went from a couple of different vantage points:
In Washington D.C., President Harry Truman..
“…broke the news in his office to reporters in his office at 8:30 (a.m.). At 9:00 from the Diplomatic Reception Room where Roosevelt had so often broadcast to the country, he spoke to the largest radio audience yet recorded: ‘This is a solemn but glorious hour. I only wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day… We must work to finish the war. Our victory is but half-won…” 1.
In New York, the Times published General Eisenhower’s Victory Order of the Day to his troops :
“May 8, 1945
The crusade on which we embarked in the early summer of 1944 has reached its glorious conclusion. It is my especial privilege, in the name of all nations represented in this theatre of war, to commend each of you for the valiant performance of duty.
Though these words are feeble, they come from the bottom of a heart overflowing with pride in your loyal service and admiration for you as warriors. Your accomplishments at sea, in the air, on the ground and in the field of supply have astonished the world.
As we celebrate victory in Europe let us remind ourselves that our common problems of the immediate and distant future can be best solved in the same conceptions of cooperation and devotion to the cause of human freedom as have made this Expeditionary Force such a mighty engine of righteous destruction. Let us have no part in the profitless quarrels in which other men will inevitably engage as to what country and what service won the European war.” 2.
“When the day finally came, it was like no other day that anyone can remember. It had a flavor of its own, an extemporaneousness which gave it something of the quality of a vast, happy village fete as people wandered about, sat, sang, and slept against a slimmer background of trees, grass, flowers, and water…Apparently the desire to assist in London’s celebration combusted spontaneously in the bosom of every member of every family, from the smallest babies, with their hair done up in red-white-and-blue ribbons, to beaming elderly couples who, utterly without self-consciousness, strolled up and down the streets arm in arm in red-white-and-blue paper hats.” – Mollie Panter-Downes
“The announce- ment came long before dawn, and thousands of people poured into the streets wearing everything from pajamas to fur coats. The crowd stayed on and on and grew ever larger. There had been no such demonstration in Moscow since the Revolution’s earliest wild days. Hordes gathered in front of the British and American embassies, and whenever a foreigner was spotted, he was gently plucked up by hundreds of hands and passed along with cheers. George Kennan, U.S. charge d’affaires, made a speech from the embassy balcony where the Red banner hung beside the Stars and Stripes. Roars went up: ‘Long live Truman!’ ‘Long live Roosevelt’s memory!’ ‘Long live the great Americans!'” 4.
In Ulm, Germany:
“When the war ended, I was in Germany, in a town called Ulm. Out of the clear blue sky over the loud- speaker they say, ‘The war has ended! The war has ended!’ Here I am in a foxhole talking to one of my buddies. ‘What did they say?’
‘Pat! The war has ended!’ You’d see there were some of them out there going crazy. Guys were shooting each other by mistake! GIs, yes, they were shooting themselves, from the excitement. They tried to tell everybody, ‘Calm down! Be careful!’
And I was in a foxhole down there. ‘The war is over! The war is over!’ I was crying in the foxhole from joy, I couldn’t believe it. The following morning they called formation outside, they said, ‘The following names, please step forward.’ Finally, ‘Pfc. Patsy Giacchi!’ I step forward.
‘Okay,’ the captain says, ‘you guys are all going home.’ Boom. One guy passes out from the excitement. I couldn’t believe it. I think I was 21 years old then.” 5.
– Patsy Giacchi of New Jersey, 94th Quartermaster Co.
1. – “Truman” by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992
4. – “The American Heritage Picture History of World War II” by C.L. Sulzberger, American Heritage Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1966