Victory in Europe Day — this very significant anniversary came and went without much fanfare, or acknowledgement on May 8, 2017. That is really sad to realize that this great event did not seem to be worthy of noting and remembering from 1945. On that date, General Dwight D. Eisenhoiwer accepted the surrender of what was left of Hitler’s Third Reich, which ended World War II in Europe, at long last.
The “Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw named it literally saved the world from the German and Japanese warmongers. The Allied forces, led by the collaboration of FDR and Churchill, finally prevailed and for a brief time at least, made a real peace possible, even with Russia’s temporary cooperation, until Stalin’s “Iron Curtain” across central Europe became a harsh reality.
To President Harry Truman’s credit, he made the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan, thereby shortening the war in the Pacific and forcing Japan to surrender in August 1945, thereby saving huge Allied casualties that would have resulted from an invasion of the Japanese home islands.
Truman was, among other things, a man who once he made a decision, stayed with it and did not vacillate. His resolve served America and the world well, especially so when he named General George Marshall as Secretary of State. Marshall developed the massive and necessary aid program for post-war Europe which appropriately became known as the “Marshall Plan” that enabled that region to begin recovery from the ravages of war and preserve democracy and freedom in Western Europe.
If a survey were taken today in 2017, far more people would not have awareness of this very review about the end of WWII than would be aware of or remember it. Churchill once stated: “Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Words worth remembering, especially in 2017.
Dean Gordin is a county resident and guest columnist.