On V-J day, I was only 7 years old, but the memory is crystal clear. We were living in a government housing project in Michigan, and there were virtually no men between ages 18 and 40 in that community of several hundred women and children. After V-E Day, some dads had come home for extended leaves, and the project was a happy place. Those with people fighting in the Pacific knew that we'd win over there, too, and when it finally happened, the place went nuts: uncontained joy reigned, and when my friend Bobby Phillips came running down the street, he hollered "Come with me!" I followed him to the project office, where Bobby grabbed a lawn mower. He went out to the schoolyard and began cutting a huge V in the middle of the field. Some friends saw us, and they ran to get more mowers. By the time we were finished, the V we mowed in that field was almost 200 feet long and 150 feet wide. We pledged that the V would be kept mowed until our heroes came home and saw it, and through the winter of 1945, it was clearly visible, even when the snow fell.
In 1957 I took my fiancée to show her where I'd spent an important decade of my life. As we walked across the schoolyard, I saw the V as clearly as if I'd just mowed it; she didn't see it at all.
Richard F. McHugh
On the day World War II ended, I had but recently returned from serving with the 877th Signal Service Company, 9th Air Force Support Command, in Europe. Now on furlough, I was lunching with Mrs. Rhoda Chase, an old family friend, at a Chinese restaurant on Broadway, in Times Square, in New York City. As we ate, we casually watched the electric "moving" sign on the Times News Building, when we read: "PRESIDENT TRUMAN HAS ANNOUNCED JAPAN HAS SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY. THE WAR IS OVER."
People in the restaurant were screaming with joy, hugging each other, and crowds were gathering in Times Square. Mrs. Chase, who also had a son in the Army, got up, ran to the bar, and bought me a fifth of Southern Comfort.
"Get out of here, Howard," she said. "This is no time for a soldier to be sitting around chatting with an old lady. The war is over. Go celebrate, have fun."