It's Over- page 6 | 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 heard the news of Japan's surrender on my car radio. I was on assignment as a Lockheed Aircraft resident inspector in downtown Los Angeles. Of course, there was a lot of celebrating going on in the streets and a great feeling of relief. The other emotion was "now what"? I called my manager at Lockheed and was told that the plant would be shut down immediately to regroup and decide on what course to take. Aircraft production was immediately stopped and layoffs began. Planes were taken off the assembly line and taken outside to be scrapped. The story was that they were cut up with radio, instruments, etc., still intact. Those days were a mixture of joy, relief that the war was over, and some apprehension.

Carl Wilkins
Sunnyvale, California





I was 11 years old. I had three brothers serving in World War II, three brothers-in-law, other relatives and friends. During those years my mother and older sisters sent dozens of boxes of cookies and other foods to them. I remember one brother saying, "I knew that as soon as those Army boys saw my box, I would get only one cookie, if lucky, maybe two." I had an uncle and a cousin killed in World War II, and my sister's brother-in-law was killed as a fighter pilot.

Including my parents, we were a struggling farm family of 12 living in the far southeast corner of Nebraska along the Missouri River bluffs. Little did we know about soda pop and junk food. But every year, only on the Fourth of July, my father would bring home a wooden case of pop. Those wooden cases came in handy! On a typical summer day, after we heard by radio that the war had ended, my father surprised us with a case of pop. Cream, strawberry, root beer and orange. There were six of us at home, so that meant that each of us got four bottles of pop. I chose one of each kind, and what a great and never-to-be-forgotten celebration we had!

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