On May 8, 1945, Americans, with our allies around the world, celebrated Nazi Germany’s surrender ending World War II in Europe. Many American troops stationed in Europe were soon after sent home or to the Pacific Theater. Concentration Camps and communities across Europe were liberated, Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945, and people turned from the dreadfulness of war to working to heal and rebuild.
In a broadcast to the American people announcing the surrender of Germany, President Harry S. Truman highlighted the need to work to end the war in the East and stated, “We can repay the debt which we owe to our God, to our dead and to our children only by work--by ceaseless devotion to the responsibilities which lie ahead of us. . . . . We must seek to bind up the wounds of a suffering world--to build an abiding peace, a peace rooted in justice and in law.”
World War II Veterans heeded this charge and whether by their own quiet resolve or by an ongoing sense of duty, they got to work in communities across our nation. They helped build America into the greatest nation the world has ever known. We are blessed that many of these servicemembers returned to our great state. I have had the honor of paying tribute to some of these extraordinary Idahoans and other World War II Veterans by presenting them with the Spirit of Freedom Award. You can read about them and others on my official website at: www.crapo.senate.gov.
My staff and I have also had the opportunity to interview Idaho veterans to record their experiences serving our nation for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP). This includes my conversation with Captain Lynn B. Richmond, who earned a Bronze Star for his meritorious service in direct support of combat operations in Italy, where he served in artillery for the U.S. Army in World War II. Our conversation was submitted to the Library of Congress VHP. The Library of Congress recently announced the launch of the “End of World War II: 75th Anniversary,” a new online feature that highlights firsthand accounts of the war’s end, that can be accessed at http://www.loc.gov/vets/stories/ex-war-end-wwii-75.html. If you have the opportunity to help collect the stories of veterans you know, the Veterans History Project website, at www.loc.gov/vets/, contains guidelines for conducting interviews and submitting stories to the project.
This Memorial Day like all Memorial Days, we honor extraordinary Americans lost in service to our nation. They laid down their lives for all of us—their fellow servicemembers they stood beside, our American ideals, the security of our communities and our friends around the world. As we hold them and their families in our hearts, we can also think about the trials our country has faced over the years and the strength of the Americans who set us on paths of healing. These are important lessons as we work together in the coming months to mourn and recover from the losses our nation and world have sustained in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Let us keep the direction from three-quarters of a century ago in mind while we continue to work together to “bind up the wounds of suffering in this world.” Thank you to all of our nation’s servicemembers and their families for setting an exceptional standard in leading this charge.