It's Over- page 25 | 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




August 15,1945. The camp was named Wannalancet, and the site was Notre Dame Academy in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. It was the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary at a Catholic girl's camp. We were celebrating with a candlelight procession. This was followed by taps and the lowering of the flag.

Many of the children at the camp were there because their parents were in the service or were occupied with wartime jobs. Some had lost fathers and/or other family members in the war. I was a first-time camp counselor.

At the end of the religious service, the camp director stood up and made the announcement that the Japanese had surrendered and that the war was over. After the cheers, jubilation and a prayer of thanksgiving, the tears came. They were flowing from all eyes, young and old. As a counselor, I supervised the children as they retired. This night there was no sleeping. Many were weeping over lost loved ones and needed consolation while others were just crying for joy but all were restless and happy that the end had come. They were growing up in the worst of times.

After we settled the campers down, some of the the counselors took a trip to the nearest town. Our transportation was the chaplain's automobile. Gas was rationed, but he had a full tank. He had also conveniently left the keys in the ignition. All along the country road people were celebrating with cookouts and parties and every one was an "open house." It was an unforgettable night.

Marie McGrath
Sandwich, MA


Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus