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World War II Tag

It's a little quiet here in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Because today is Victory Day, formerly known as VJ Day, formerly known as Victory Over Japan Day. The progression of names to the generic Victory Day was to accomodate the hurt feelings of, umm, who exactly? The Japanese over whom we were victorious and who started it but couldn't finish it? Historically the day is to mark Victory Over Japan, but history is a casualty of the war waged by political correctness and hurt feelings.

Today in History Clouds hung low over the cold summer beaches of Normandy on the morning of June 6th, 1944. The French countryside had been subjected to a night of heavy bombing by the Army Airforce and the US Navy but the vital bunkers and artillery emplacements protecting the beaches had hardly been scratched. The clouds had protected them. This would become quite unfortunate for the first waves of soldiers who would find themselves walking right into them.

The 8th Army Airforce

Of all the branches of the military, the Army Airforce had an especially dangerous job. Leaving aside even the common flight risks of mid-air collisions and frostbite from flying in non-pressurized aircraft five miles in the air, the 8th Army Airforce dealt with unique horrors. Over Germany, B-17 bombers couldn't be accompanied by escort fighters due to a lack of fuel range, leaving them particularly vulnerable to Luftwaffe raids during their bombing runs near the targets. Even when they weren't being raided they were subject to constant anti-aircraft bombardment from 88mm howitzers that shredded the planes.

It's unclear at this point whether there will be a short-term budget deal, or a government "shutdown." Despite the drama, a shutdown is not really a shut down. Essential services continue. It's more of a scale-back, and the government has a lot of discretion as to what gets scaled back. In a press conference today OMB Director Mick Mulvaney made the point that many agencies have reserve funds that can be used, but weren't used in the 2013 shutdown.

On Christmas Eve 1944, U.S. troops were in the freezing cold of the Ardennes forest during the Battle of the Bulge, waist-high in snow. We have remembered and told that story on recent Christmas Eves: I encourage you not only to read the posts and the comments, but also the comments to our prior Facebook threads [here and here] and our current Facebook thread [here] in which people recounted their family experiences.

There are days in the year we should commemorate yearly: 9/11, D-Day, V-Day, July 4. December 7, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, is one of those days. We lost 2,400 in the attack, the majority on the USS Arizona. Today at Pearl Harbor, a sailor who saved six men finally received his recognition. Also, President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation to recognize December 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Seven survivors joined him for the event.

The only state which still celebrates Victory Over Japan Day is my home State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Except, we can't call it Victory Over Japan Day. Because that is a microaggression against Japan, even though they did start the war and we are celebrating victory over Japan. I've covered this holiday numerous times in the past.

On this day, 73 years ago, the Allies stormed into Normandy, France, and led an invasion to liberate Western Europe from the Germans. These men risked everything to bring an end to one of the most evil regimes in history. American, British, and Canadian soldiers took part in Operation Overloard, also known as D-Day, along the 50 miles of five beaches. D-Day is "one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history."

On May 8, 1945, the German army collapsed around Europe after Adolf Hitler's successor Karl Dönitz officially surrendered to the Allies. This date has become known as Victory Day in Europe, aka VE Day, to mark the end of World War II on the continent. At first, the German High Command led by General Alfred Jodl only wanted to surrender to the Western Allies. General Dwight D. Eisenhower demanded the Germans surrender on both fronts. Dönitz told Jodl to comply. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced the surrender on May 8:
Yesterday morning, at 2.41, at General Eisenhower's headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command and of Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German State, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German land, sea and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force, and, simultaneously, to the Soviet High Command. General Bedell Smith, who is the Chief of the Staff to the Allied Expeditionary Force-and not, as I stated in a slip just now, Chief of the Staff to the United States Army-and General François Sevez, signed the document on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Susloparoff signed on behalf of the Russian High Command.
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