WWII has been called the bloodiest war leaving behind mass destruction and many wounds that would never be healed. In all, over 60 million people were killed during the duration of the war. On a military level, America lost 407,300 men, the U.K lost 383,700 men, Poland, before being overtaken, lost 240,000, France lost 210,000, the Soviet Union lost 10,000,000 men, and Germany lost 5,180,000 men.
A mass slaughter of the Jews also happened during this war. Estimates range that anywhere between 4,000,000 and 6,000,000 Jews were killed. That is 55% of the world's Jewish population! In all this, I haven't even mentioned civilian (non-Jewish) deaths.
There was laughter on this day, but the laughter was rivaled by the tears. America was the only country involved in WWII that did not have any cleanup to do after the war ended. France had been bombed, Germany had been flattened and Japan had had massive cities destroyed by the atomic bomb not to mention the other cities that had been fought over and destroyed in an attempt to stop the Japanese. On this day many mothers would glance fondly at pictures of their uniformed sons, knowing they would never again hold them in their arms. Wives and girlfriends wiped away tears and tried to be happy for their friends when they knew they themselves would never again feel their mans's arms around them.
Then there were those who's men had come home from war, but they would never be the same. Fathers had to learn how to work and provide for their family while missing a leg or an arm. Those who may not have had physical damage did have emotional damage that would never be fully healed.
Wive and mothers on the home-front lived each day wondering if they would ever see their men again. They worked hard to take the places of the men that had left, making it possible for the war supplies to continue to be made. Some never saw the fruit of their labor because their family members had been killed overseas.
Soldiers saw men they had come to think of as brothers killed beside them in action, seeing the destruction and the senseless waste of men and women was something they would never fully recover from. Doctor and nurses had had men die in their care. They had men brought to them they knew would never make it out alive.
Of all the men and women who served in WWII, I would argue that the nurses and doctors stationed in field hospitals had been through the most. They had heard the bombs as they worked, not caring for their own exhaustion, as they tried to remove a bullet from a leg or perform an amputation in less then sterile conditions hoping that somehow their patient would make it out alive. They had to make the agonizing decision of leaving men they knew wouldn't make it behind because there was only a limited amount of room available on the transports.
Yes, while September 2nd, 1945 was a day of rejoicing, it was also a day of deep sadness. Wounds may heal, but they leave a scar telling the story of what has happened. This is is the day where we celebrate the ending of the greatest conflict known to the world. My great grandpa served in WWII and this past month I had the pleasure of meeting two older men who served in the war. Their stories are astounding, amazing, and they leave behind a legacy. They saw firsthand the horrors of the war and they saw the day when peace was declared.
I was watching a movie called The Battle of Britain yesterday (which isn't exactly a movie I would recommend). My favorite part is what was said by Chief Air Officer Dowding before the battle of Britain begun. One of the men from parliament had come to get Dowding's opinion on their air force. Dowding said "We have 650 planes compared to our enemies 2,500 planes". The second man said "Yes, but we have our radar and Churchill puts great faith in our Radar." Dowding turns and says, "Well, I'll be praying." The second man replies, "So your trusitng in our Radar and praying to God?" to which Dowding replies "More like I'm trusting in God and praying our radar works."
I LOVE that last line. It shows where a lot (not all) of the allied leader's hearts were. They were trusting God and when the War was over, they praised God.
So today as we celebrate the end of this war, I pray that we would take a moment to pause and reflect on how God played a hand in ending the War. It was a horrible war, but in the midst of it, God was still there.
Today is may seem like we're in the midst of many wars whether it be the fight for freedom, the fight for justice or even the fight for survival on this earth. Remember, God is always there. As Christians our freedom is found in Christ, our need for justice is replaced by God's mercy and our survival on this earth is because God placed us here for a reason.
I hope we are celebrating this day, because it was on this day that many people were freed and allowed to return to their homes. It was a day that many people rejoiced over knowing it meant that their loved ones would soon be home, and it is a day that should always be remembered in History.
|Japan signs the peace treaty.|
|An American newspaper celebrates the end of WWII.|
|American soldiers celebrating the end of the war.|