May 5, 2020 Veterans History Project Launches New Feature Commemorating 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II
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Website: End of World War II: 75th Anniversary
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) today launched, “End of World War II: 75th Anniversary,” a new online feature of the “Experiencing War” website that highlights firsthand accounts of the war’s end.
Seventy five years ago, on May 8, 1945, Americans on the home front and the front lines celebrated the Allied victory in Europe — known as V-E Day — and began to look toward the inevitable end of the war. The long-awaited day approached in August 1945 when fighting ceased and finally arrived on Sept. 2, 1945, when Japan formally surrendered to Allied forces. Nearly four long years of deprivation, heartache and loss drew to a close.
In the new online feature, the Veterans History Project explores the personal stories of 15 World War II veterans and what the end of the war meant for them. Most of these oral histories are being featured online for the first time.
Go to loc.gov/vets/stories/ex-war-end-wwii-75.html to access these veterans’ collections as well as other World War II-era narratives.
Among the featured stories is that of Jerome Yellin, a fighter pilot with the 78th Fighter Squadron. At the time of the Japanese surrender, Yellin was completing his 19th mission over Japan; he landed on Iwo Jima to find out the war had already been over for three hours. The loss of so many comrades in battle — 16 from his squadron in total — took a toll on Yellin, and he battled post-traumatic stress disorder following the end of the war.
Another highlighted narrative is that of Mary Crawford Ragland, who served in the Women’s Army Corps with the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an African-American unit known as the “Six Triple Eight.” Serving in Birmingham, England, and Rouen, France, Ragland and her comrades took on the job of clearing a massive backlog of personal mail sent by service personnel and stuck in limbo between the European Theater and the home front. The year 1945 brought jubilation — the Six Triple Eight marched in a victory parade down the Champs-Élysée in Paris — but also exposed Ragland to the horrors of the war, such as the destruction of French villages and newly liberated concentration camps.
Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of United States veterans from World War I through the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. For more information, visit loc.gov/vets/ or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news. Follow VHP on Facebook @vetshistoryproject.
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