Seventy years ago today, the world was able to exhale in relief and celebrate the end of the War in Europe. My Grandfather, Herb Bowman, and my Uncle Mick Harris would have celebrated this day in their own ways, Grandpa with prayers of thanksgiving, Uncle Mick as a Sailor still on duty aboard a Destroyer in the Pacific and my Uncle Bill a paratrooper who made all four combat jumps in the ETO knowing that he would not have to jump again.
In preparing for today’s show, I debated discussing the meaning and legacy of WWII in Europe, the history of the post-war issues and problems and even the political struggles that remained to be faced. I went to the library and I began to listen to the recordings of that day.
A few moments into a recording which I had never heard before of a group of Allied Generals, including Patton and Ridgeway, saying “Thank you” to their troops, I realized that this was a powerful recollection of the day.
And so, I present to you today, VE Day as it was experienced seventy years ago. Without my comment or input. This is what that day was like. Raw and emotional, from New York, to Paris, to London and even Moscow.
I hope that it moves you to hear these voices from that day, as it has me. The biggest part of this show is a twenty-five minute broadcast from Europe, broadcast by CBS at 11am May 8, 1945. In it you will hear from seven Allied Generals who led the Allied Armies to victory. You will hear the voices of 3rd Army Commander General George Patton, 1st Army Commander General Courtney H. Hodges, 1st Allied Airborne Army Lt. General Lewis Brereton, and even Lt. General Matthew Ridgeway, as well as others. The pride they feel in their men and their accomplishments is clear in their voices.
Interspersed with news reports, live from the field reports and newsreels, and ending with a reminder that the 70th Anniversary of the end of the war still leaves us with many of the same challenges to face, this is my Sentimental Journey across time, May 8, 1945.
Come with me and experience the emotion of the first VE Day…