V-E Day, May 8th, 1945, countries around the world celebrated the Allied Forces victory in Europe, marking the end to nearly 6 years of war in Europe. One day prior, the leaders of Nazi Germany met with the leaders of the Allied Forces to sign surrender documents, agreeing to lay down their weapons and pout an end to their invasion and occupation of European countries. The surrender agreement took over 20 hours to complete, and finally on May 8th, 1945, President Harry Truman announced to the American people that Nazi Germany had surrendered, and the Allied Forces had gained victory in Europe.
V-E Day Celebrations
People all over the world, from London, Moscow to New York City gathered in the streets of their cities to celebrate the victory in Europe. Cities throughout the Untied States broke out into celebration. Thousands gathered in New York City’s Times Square. People danced in the streets of New Orleans, and church bells rang out across the nation signifying the great news. Despite the great news, these celebrations were subdued by the reality that the war was only half over. The United States was still engaged in conflict with Imperial Japan. President Truman reminded the American people that there was still “work to do” in his Mother’s Day speech stating, “Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors—neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty … If I could give you a single watchword for the coming months, that word is work, work, and more work. We must work to finish the war. Our victory is only half over.”
V-E Day's Significance to Ending WWII
V-E Day marked the beginning to the end of WWII. The United States was still engaged in war with Imperial Japan. Nazi Germany had joined alliances with Japan and declared war on the United States. The US Military implemented a strategy that prioritized liberating Europe from Nazi Germany, which diverted the US Military’s resources and attention from its war with Imperial Japan. When the leaders of Nazi Germany signed surrender documents, the US Military refocused their efforts on defeating Imperial Japan. Merely 4-months later on September 2, 1945, Japan signed surrender documents to the United States.
Although V-E Day marks a date of celebration to the end of a viscous and long war in Europe, we must also remember those that served, sacrificed and gave all for our nation during WWII. We remember and give appreciation for the 16,112,566 US troops that served in the WWII conflict. We remember and give thanks to the 670,846 US troops that were wounded in the line of duty during WWII. And we remember, honor and give thanks to the 405,399 US troops who gave all for our nation during WWII. Thank you all for your service. We will never forget.