Well, here is another momentous anniversary to ponder. Seventy-five years ago, the Second World War in Europe came to an end, and the Nazis were defeated. Three months later, the war would finally come to an end in the Pacific after we dropped two Atomic bombs on Japan.
Although I was born in 1950, World War II was something my generation grew up in its shadow. You couldn’t watch TV in the 50s without seeing a documentary or drama with a war theme. Even the games we played were invaded by the war.
We played with soldiers and had rifles; some had toy hand grenades. We played I Declare War, which was a game that combined tag with dodge ball. Each player chose a country, and we put a ball in the middle of the sewer cap in the middle of Leland Avenue. With chalk, radii were drawn out from the center and each segment represented a country where you would stand waiting for the next round to start.
The first player to be “it” retrieved the ball from the center and in a loud voice proclaimed, “I declare war on RUSSIA” and proceeded to bounce the ball as high as possible while the kid who was Russia ran after the ball and the rest of us ran away as fast as possible.
Once the ball was caught, we were all ordered to stop, and then the kid with the ball would try to hit one of us, and then that person would be it and on and on the game would go.
You always wanted to be USA, and you didn’t want to be Russia or Japan.
We knew what was what in the 50s.
On May 8, 1945, people rejoiced in Times Square, and a sailor kissed a girl that has been memorialized in huge statues, two of which I have seen. One was in San Diego and the other in Sarasota.
People were happy.
Happiness seemed to endure into the 50s and early 60s.
Why wouldn’t people be happy? Most adults had lived during the Great Depression and then fought the war. Once the war was over, America was poised to explode more than A-bombs. Our economy took off. Technology started to impact our lives as televisions and telephones were standard features in most homes.
Life was good, even if it remained scary.
War was always right around the corner. Whether in Korea or fearing that the United States would wind up going into WWIII against the Soviet Union, war was still in our psyche.
The Cuban Missle Crisis in 1962 brought that right into our living rooms.
But today is to remember a day of joy, a day of happiness, and a day of victory of Light over Darkness.
It is also a day to remember the brave men and women who served and died so that we could still enjoy the freedom of America.