Even for a small child, VJ Day memories linger

Posted 8/12/20

To the editor:

I was a child of six that day in August, 1945, so the country at war was the norm for a young child. My brother and I took safety and protection for granted even though all our …

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Even for a small child, VJ Day memories linger

Posted

To the editor:

I was a child of six that day in August, 1945, so the country at war was the norm for a young child. My brother and I took safety and protection for granted even though all our family members wore uniforms for the organizations in which they served: mother in Civilian Defense, father in National Guard and grandmother a Red Cross worker.

We were guinea pigs for my mother’s practice bandaging and splinting our limbs, our father incessantly fiddled with short wave radio for news from London; his younger brother in Germany, our grandmother wept for “the boys who have lost legs and arms.” She rolled bandages, packed boxes of mittens and socks knitted by thousands of people across the country, and cooked for a soldiers’ kitchen in New York City.

Those activities of our elders were the fabric of daily life. There were small and not so small hardships (in 1945 the ration for coffee was one pound per adult per six weeks!) but Americans were unified in protecting their country and families.

We were innocent and had no real idea that a family member might die. Even when my mother explained the dark green black-out shades on every window that came down every night, so that enemy planes with bombs could not see the city lights, it had no impact on a young mind. We played soldiers incessantly – the war was an abstract thing.

On August 14, 1945, my brother and I were told to hang around because the war was going to end and the family should be together. President Truman would be broadcasting on the radio. My parents, grandmother, uncles and aunts were all gathered, waiting, in our living room. When Truman said that Japan had surrendered unconditionally, the war was over and proclaimed the next day V-J Day, no one spoke.

The President then said we would hear our national anthem. All the grown ups stood up with hands over their hearts in salute. My mother asked us to also stand and salute while the music played. We were puzzled. “Why? There’s no one to see us,” I asked. “Yes,” she said, “We are all here.”

Linda Rogers

Westport

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Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.