The bare Forsythia bushes next to my house have started to be speckled with small yellow buds, while not far away a daffodil sprout has pushed away the grains of topsoil as it reaches for the sun. The magic of spring starts to make its appearance as the earth rotates to the position that gives us the brighter longer warmer days we crave. Spring is the time for regeneration, rejuvenation and the promise of a new brighter season.
In Korea, the Arctic winter of snow and sub-freezing temperatures gradually morphs into a wet, muddy world suitable for Noah and his Ark. Thank God for ponchos. It was originally said that we would be out of here by Christmas; they didn’t say Christmas of what year. The negotiators at the peace talks can’t agree on what door to enter the conference room or how to place the table, so I think this so-called “police action” will last a while and be called a war.
The dark days of World War II have been turned into brighter days during the spring of 1945 in both Europe and the Pacific. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s island hopping strategy in the Pacific for the past two years has provided us with airstrips for our bombers. Manila was liberated, Iwo Jima was secured; Okinawa was invaded on April 1 and our B-29 bombers have been firebombing Japan and its home islands. Japanese forces are being routed from their previously occupied territories.
The pincher around Germany is closing, with Russians starting to encircle Berlin from the east and Allied Forces approaching from the west. U.S. bombers have turned Germany into a rubble pile. Italy has surrendered and joined the Allies. Italian partisans killed Mussolini. Hitler and his inner circle have taken refuge in a bunker in Berlin. President Roosevelt dies on April 12 and Harry Truman assumes the presidency. On April 25, U.S. and Russian troops meet on the banks of the Elbe River. It had been decided that the final battle of Berlin would be granted to the Russians since they had heavy losses at the hands of the Nazis. Allied Forces await the outcome of the battle before entering Berlin.
If the supermen of Hitler’s super race had any question of our ability before the Invasion of June 6, 1944, they sure didn’t now. From all appearances, it looked like there might not be any Third Reich by June 6, 1945. The pressure on the American homefront was subsiding. The approaching warm days and sunshine of spring bleached out the dark days of the past four years. The end appeared to be in sight and we listened to the radio every night to hear when it might come. A proud, hopeful nation waited for its reward for a job well done.
Richard Pender is senior vice commander of American Legion Post 459 in North Brunswick. He writes the occasional historical column for Newspaper Media Group. Contact Pender at firstname.lastname@example.org.