Friday, June 19, 2015

28. Gettysburg Celebrates Victory in Europe Day

Nancy and I were only one month away from graduating from eighth grade when the front page of the Gettysburg Times reported in huge bold letters the news everyone waited four long years to hear: GERMANY SURRENDERS.

On May 7, 1945, the chief of staff of the German army, General Gustav-Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, and Admiral Karl Doenitz ordered the capitulation of all German fighting forces. 

According to the Times, the people of Gettysburg remained calm as they waited for the official announcements from Washington, London and Moscow. In anticipation of that news from the Allied leaders, Victory in Europe Day services were planned for the following evening at 8:15 on the square.

The following day, photos of Stalin, Churchill and Truman appeared on the front page of the Times which reported the war in Europe was officially over. 

That night, several thousand gathered on the square in Gettysburg to hear leading citizens of the community pay tribute to the servicemen and women who helped defeat Germany.

The speakers expressed our joy for the victory, sorrow for those who lost their lives and a rededication of our effort to defeat the Japanese in the West where the war would continue for another four months. Silent prayer was followed by the singing of the Lord’s Prayer and the Star Spangled Banner. 

For Nancy and me and millions of others the continuation of the war with Japan meant our loved ones would not be coming home yet. Not yet!

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