It's Over- page 10 | History | Smithsonian
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It's Over

We asked readers to tell us where they were and how they reacted to the news that World War II had ended. And what a response we got!

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I was an 18-year-old "kid" at Officers Candidate School, Fort Benning, Georgia on August 15, 1945. We didn't get a lot of news, but we knew the end of the war was imminent. We had heard about the giant bombs; we knew the invasion of Okinawa was rugged and bloody. We absorbed all of this in the final weeks of officer training knowing that if there was not an unconditional surrender, we would soon be crossing the Pacific to fight. We had been led to believe that the Japanese would fight to the death of every last man and that this war could easily go on for another year or more and the U.S. Army needed young and daring 2nd Lieutenants. We were in top physical condition and trained to fire every infantry weapon. We were ready. And then it happened. Surrender! Fort Benning and Columbus, Georgia went wild! There was dancing in the streets, singing, partying and joy everywhere. We were told that no one was home, they were all out on the streets celebrating. But now, the U.S. Army did not need any new 2nd Lieutenants. It also meant that I would soon be out of the army and back home with my parents and my beautiful high school girlfriend. Yes, we soldiers celebrated too, but the next day we were right back in the intense training of Infantry OCS.

William R. Sewell
Danville, California





My Dad worked at the Boston Navy Shipyard repairing ships during the war. On one of his rare weekends off, he took our family to an island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire to visit family friends. Part of the island was a camp used to rehabilitate servicemen who had been wounded and were confined to wheelchairs. This camp was next door to the home we were visiting.

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