75 Years Ago Today–August 14, 1945–World War II Ended
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor prompted America’s official entry into World War II, which had been raging overseas for more than two years. For the next four years, America was engaged in the struggle.
In all, well over 10,000 Aurorans—men and women—served in the various branches of the armed services during the conflict, both abroad in every theater of combat, and stateside. Nearly 300 paid the supreme sacrifice.
Those at home—men, women, and children—did their part as well. During the course of the war, 60 local industries were engaged in war work, employing 14,000 workers—5,500 of them women. Eight local War Bond drives sold over $50,000,000 in bonds. Scrap drives brought 30,830 pounds of aluminum, 327 tons of waste paper, and several tons of other materials. Like all Americans, Aurorans endured the rationing of all kinds of food items, tires, gas, and items from nylon to shoes.
On May 8, 1945, the war in Europe ended—Victory in Europe, or V-E Day. Then, on August 14, 1945, word came that Japan was surrendering. It was V-J Day—Victory Over Japan. As people did all over the nation, Aurorans celebrated. Auroran Eloise Rice (1914-2001) recalled fifty years later, “Everyone took to the streets with celebration. . . Everyone was rejoicing and celebrating practically all night long.” Throngs of people descended upon Aurora’s downtown, on foot and by car, and paper and confetti rained down from office and apartment windows, littering the streets.