I recall being in the living room at home on Furnace Street in Mineral Ridge, Ohio, listening to the radio. I remember it being later in the day but it was still day light.It's hard for me to imagine such a momentous occasion. The people of America had sacrificed unitedly and purposefully for many years to support the war effort. It would have been thrilling to imagine life going back to normal, albeit a new and different normal than before the war.
I remember mom being there but not dad. I think he was at work. (TV was some years off for us as well as everyone else for that matter. It was still in the development stages).
I remember, vaguely, that an announcement came over the radio that the Empire of Japan had surrendered. I remember mom being excited so I got excited too. Since we only had one car and dad had it at work, I think we somehow borrowed Grandpa Meinzen's car.... I don't recall either he or Grandma going with us. We went into Niles, Ohio, some three miles away. I recall everyone driving up and down the streets blowing their horns in celebration. How long we rode around I'm not sure. I think we got home after dark which would have been around 9 PM or so.... I remember the excitement of that evening that the war was over.
In my lifetime there has not been a war's end that was celebrated like V-J Day. I can't remember a definitive end to any war in which our country has fought, and the only time I can remember our country drawing together in prayer and unity was on and after the tragedies on September 11, 2001.
A half a century ago many newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Pittsburgh Press, published evening editions. So much the better to cover the events of the day and previous night in other parts of the world. The August 15, 1945, edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details news of the Japanese surrender as it happened in Japan. The Pittsburgh Press edition for that date shows photos of celebrations in the streets and thanks-giving at churches in the city. The celebration in little Niles' would have been small compared to those in Pittsburgh, if only because of a smaller population. Yet I'm sure the sentiment was the same.
War is cruel in so many ways. For those who fight to protect freedoms, war can temporarily (and sometimes permanently) deprive individuals of freedoms -- wives and children unable to interact with husbands and fathers, soldiers without the comforts of home, everyone living with the uncertainty of what the next day or moment will bring, and frequently lives extinguished. War, in whatever form it is fought, is devastating. I hope for and look forward to a time when the countries of the world can live peacefully within their own boundaries and not feel the need to overtake and dominate other countries.
I'm grateful to my brother, Bob, for sharing this memory. Thank you.