Sixty-seven years ago in 1945, Victory in Europe Day was declared, as Great Britain and the United States celebrated the end to World War II. German troops surrendered in Germany and throughout Europe and more than 13,000 British POWs were released to return home. Families, service members, and governments celebrated as the conflict that dictated their lives for the past six years was now officially over.
AMVETS was present at this year’s VE Day Ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Several World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors were present as speakers discussed the importance of the memorial and the legacy that these service members left behind for future generations. “This is a sacred place where we come to remember and reflect and commemorate the defining moments of World War II,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Claude “Mick” Kicklighter, Chairman of the Friends of the National World War II Memorial. “This memorial says in a very special way that the people of America will never forget our veterans, will never forget their families, and will never forget those who gave all their tomorrows.”
Also present during the ceremony was retired Army Gen. John Abrams, the keynote speaker at the event. He noted the many sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation in World War II and also discussed how America should support veterans through programs such as veteran employment, education, healthcare, and community reintegration. “Congratulations on your victory,” noted Abrams. “You have fought the hard fight and have succeeded in making this world a better place.” The ceremony was ended as five wreaths were presented from: the United States of America, Department of Defense, National Park Service, Friends of the National World War II Museum, and the Holocaust Museum.
An important day in United States history and for all World War II veterans, this ceremony honored the courage, suffering, and endurance that millions exhibited during the six years of World War II. From Holocaust survivors to service members on the battlefield to dedicated families on the home front, AMVETS celebrates VE Day and remembers how veterans achieved victory on behalf of this great nation and how many continue to follow in the tradition and service of the Greatest Generation.
(Photos: Top: Wreaths to be presented during the VE Day Ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Middle: Wreath presenters and members of the Official Party stand during a rendition of TAPS. Bottom: Retired Army Gen. John Abrams and a representative for World War II veterans present and lay a wreath. Photos by Brittany Barry.)