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Three revelers join the party in downtown Spokane on Aug. 14, 1945, to celebrate the end of World War II. Estimates put the downtown crowd as high as 50,000. (Spokesman-Review photo archive)

 
 
Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005
Sixty years ago today, World War II ended and a nation began to heal
» Jim Kershner/Staff writer

On Aug. 14, 1945, wartime surrendered to peacetime.

Spokane erupted in a wild and glorious celebration of streamers, confetti and wild dances through the downtown streets.

Today in these pages, exactly 60 years later, we too celebrate the end of World War II. We also pay tribute to the men and women who forged that victory on the battlefield and the home front.

Even the youngest of them are now 77 and many, including some interviewed earlier this summer for this section, have died. About 1,100 World War II veterans die each day. Only about 3.5 million veterans remain of the 16 million Americans who served.

We listen to their stories and read their letters from long ago. We learn what it was like to be thrust, right out of high school in many cases, into momentous and violent world events.

But first, it helps to get a sense of what the world felt like on Aug. 14, 1945, the day that Japan surrendered (although it would not be until the next day that V-J Day would be formally declared). It felt simultaneously like the biggest party of all time and the biggest relief.

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