Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children

By William M. Tuttle Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12 "Daddy's Coming Home!"

"IN THE LATE afternoon, all the factory whistles went off, sirens sounded & everyone in town was honking their car horns.... So much excitement!!" It was V-J Day, August 14, 1945. That evening this homefront girl and her townsfolk in Waukesha, Wisconsin, "gathered at the park & sang patriotic songs." And so it was across the country. The war was over; the Japanese had surrendered. Americans celebrated. A Massachusetts boy's family was staying at a beachside resort when two women from a nearby cottage, Docky and Eddie, appeared bearing tumblers of whiskey, a large Chinese gong, a trumpet, and news of America's victory. "In all the hubbub," the boy remembered, "punctuated by Eddie's gong, a parade was organized." Beating pots and pans and shouting "THE WAR IS OVER," the parade stopped along its route, and "at every house, kids and their parents joined us...." At the end, "the zaniness waned" and seriousness prevailed as the marchers sang "God Bless America."1

People in communities of all sizes were jubilant, and they danced and shouted and marched in spontaneous parades. But the nature of the V-J Day celebrations varied depending upon whether they took place in cities or towns, on farms, or in the resort areas where many Americans were vacationing that August. Cities and towns indulged in raucous celebrations which the homefront children remembered well. "The most exciting time of my childhood was the morning we received news that the war was over," wrote a girl who lived in Brooklyn. "Everyone ran outside in their pajamas, dancing & hugging each other.... Screaming with joy... & then came the block parties.... I thought the world was going crazy but it was great." Jean Beydler, who had just turned twelve, went to downtown Los Angeles with her parents. It was "going crazy," she wrote, "--cars were not even able to move in the streets and people were everywhere." The joyous soldiers and sailors were "so glad to see a child that I was the belle of the ball.... So many sailors were hugging and kissing me and crying at the same time...." Jean came home tired but happy and wearing a sailor's cap. "What a wonderful day--the war was over--I'll never forget it."2

-212-

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