From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
By Mary Smart, CAPT USN Ret (HI)
Victory in Europe Day commemorates the formal unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allied Forces at Reims, in northeastern France. Although signed on May 7, 1945, the German forces on the Eastern front would continue to fight for another day.
Approximately two million Americans served in Europe during the six year war (1939 – 1945) to secure freedom for our European allies. This year, we are observing the 78th anniversary. Although a great cause for celebration and an end to the two-front war, Americans would continue to battle the Japanese in the East until their surrender on September 2, 1945.
This significant event gave the embattled Europeans some relief and was a cause for much celebration in spite of many lives being lost with figures showing that Poland may have lost up to 20 percent of their prewar population. Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and Germany each lost about 10 percent of their population. In addition, it was still a time of strife as the remaining population had to rebuild their crumbling infrastructure after years of intense battles.
There are many books written about World War II battles and the individuals who courageously fought in the war. One such hero was Audie Murphy, one of the youngest and most decorated soldiers to fight on the European front. His story is commemorated in the movie “To Hell and Back” where he stars as himself and reminds us of the horrors of war and why we strive for peace.