Celebration and Relief

The news of victory brought a wave of celebration across the country, from the streets of Philadelphia to the farms of Iowa. Americans hosted parties and parades, screamed with joy and wept with relief, and celebrated the end of rationing by burning worn rubber tires. As described by Mary Jane Rambo, those who returned from war looked forward to starting new lives with their families in a post-war world, while Elaine Figgs and her classmates honored and mourned soldiers who didn’t live to see the results of their sacrifice.

V-E Day Celebration in Philadelphia—Polly Campbell

It was dramatically different. I mean you can’t say you’re enthusiastic about war, but we wanted our men to be over there, and we followed every day the battles and what was going on and when we got victory, that was very exciting. My father being a veteran of the first world war, said on VE Day, he said, “Let’s go downtown, I missed the end of the first world war so we’re going down now.” So we got on the train and went downtown. I didn’t really know what we were going for, but we just milled around and there were just people milling around. And the famous picture you may have seen of the soldier with the nurse—well I didn’t happen to see that, but that was I guess [laughs] what was going on. So then we got on the train and came home again. But that was it.

VJ Day Celebration—Lyle Feisel

I remember more about V-J Day because, you know, well, I don’t know why because. I guess it was a greater celebration because it was really the end of the war. I think I remember these things. I remember them, whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but I remember them. It was in August something or other, and one of the crops that was growing around in Iowa where I grew up was sweet corn. And at that time, sweet corn was all picked by hand so you do it out of the field with these wagons and picked sweet corn. And the tradition there was for neighbors to help each other so we were picking sweet corn. I was driving the tractor in the field, and suddenly somebody started yelling, “Hey, what do you hear, what do you hear!” And we lived about two miles from this little town of Tama, Iowa. And we heard the whistle at the paper mill going off, just continuously. And pretty soon somebody came running out, and said, “The War is over!; The War is over!” Well, that was the end of the sweet corn. Everybody took off for town, and they even took us little kids along which was kind of interesting because they were all going in to party and celebrate. So we went in, and I can still remember they had a big bonfire in the middle of the town. They were burning tires. Saving tires was one of the big deals, and we don’t need to save those suckers anymore so we burned tires. It was a great celebration. We had a lot of relief because we all had brothers and sisters and cousins and what not in the military, and this was now over with so—quite a thrill.

End of the War—Mary Jane Rambo

Oh, the whole town was ablaze. Everybody was running around screaming and crying and going to the bars. People were having parties, and it was fun. It was fun. We had a parade. Then the guys came home, and the girls got married and started their families. We had – we still have it down at this far end of town – a place called Hollingsworth Manor. During the war, they built these houses – they were double houses – and that’s where a lot of the war workers lived that had families. After the war, that became the place where all the young men who came home and got married started their married lives.

Board of Soldier’s Names—Elaine Figgs

And at the post office, they installed a large board, and they would put the names of the soldiers that were there. And, if I remember correctly, VE Day, we marched up to that board, and you went by class. I was in a junior class, so the seniors went first; then the juniors next; then the sophomores; then the freshmen. And they all went up to that board, and they called out the names. I think it was the mayor of the town who called out the names of the ones who were on the board. Everyone was proud that we had come through. Of course, we had, I believe it was three or four, gold star mothers that were also up there that day. That they had lost a son. One of them was a good friend of our families that lost a boy in the Navy, and, of course, we knew. It was a small town. We knew just about all of ’em, you know, when they were deceased and bring ’em home for the burial. But that was a sad time.