It's Over- page 14 | History | Smithsonian
Current Issue
July / August 2014  magazine cover

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

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!

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

The church bells, car horns and occasional shotgun blasts continued into the evening and on into the night. They were still blaring when I went to bed. I lay there for a long time, listening. We were safe. Safe at last. Mom and dad said so.

But as sleep began to claim me, I saw again my cousin's crumpled form lying in the grass, his body fluids seeping into the earth, and I wondered just how safe we really were. Hiroshima . . . Nagasaki . . . they didn't seem that far away anymore. When it started, which I still remember with great clarity, I couldn't get a fix on exactly how far away was Germany or Japan.

But that had been ages ago—like four or five years—when I was five years old. I was older now. I had seen the pictures . . . pictures of a hole in the ground that was once a city. Somewhere deep inside me, I felt that a great wheel was turning and that like summer passing and winter coming, and then passing and coming again, I and the war and the Americans, the Germans and the Japanese, or something very much like them, would all come around again someday.

I slept lightly that night, as I have ever since.

Richard J. Budig
McCook, Nebraska





Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus