Today is the 69th celebration of Victory in Europe. May 8, 1945, is marked as the day that Germany surrendered when the Nazis laid down their arms, ending the European part of World War II.
The conflict that began with the Nazis occupying the Rhineland in 1936 continued as German troops invaded Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland and France. Along the way, they also swept through Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The retaking of Europe began with the Allies defeating Mussolini in Italy in 1943. The invasion at Normandy in June 1944 began the final year of the war on the continent.
V-E Day is still marked in Europe and the United States. The unconditional surrender document was signed on May 7, 1945, by the German High Command and ratified one day later.
The fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, had committed suicide on April 30 in a bunker in Berlin.
The conflict with Japan continued another three months after V-E Day.
World War II was the deadliest war in history. The estimates of military losses range from 22,000,000 to 25,500,000 - accurate totals are unavailable. In addition, there were countless civilian casualties (some estimates range as high as 55,000,000). Included in those civilian deaths were an estimated 6 million Jews in German concentration camps and as many as 20 million Soviets.
Some 416,000 United States military personnel lost their lives. These tragic figures of the "Greatest Generation" never had the chance to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices.
V-E Day is a good time to pause once again to thank those distant relatives who secured our freedom.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.