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Japan's Surrender

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This week in 1945 the world shook with the news that World War II had come to an end. The classic bold type across a Fargo Forum Extra newspaper edition boasted Japan Quits.” The subheading read “Allied Forces Given ‘Cease Fire’ Order.”

The story reported that the local mayors of Fargo and Moorhead asked for work to cease and they urged a quiet tribute to the dead. But another of the front-page stories boasted in jubilee: Bedlam Reigns As F-M Hails Victory News.

Indeed, the thrilling news must have been dreams come true for a weary world. Area radio listeners heard: “Ladies and gentlemen, the president has just announced full acceptance of the surrender terms by the Japanese. The emperor has just announced full acceptance of the terms of the Postsdam conference.”

Less than a minute later bedlam broke loose on the streets. Whistles from power plants and steam engines roared. Eager railroad engineers chimed in, sounding their locomotive whistles in reaction to the thrilling news.

Downtown drew thongs as the exhilarated public gathered. The paper reported that men, women and children danced and cavorted as the reporter wrote: “It was the moment they had waited for so long, so earnestly, so prayerfully … cheers, laughter, and emotion was overflowing.”

But the paper also noted that here and there, a man or woman or a couple were seen to be sober, their faces grim. “They stood silently from the crowds and stood in the background, their eyes welling with tears.”

Recognizing the grim nature of the war that had touched all lives was the somber conclusion of that single story of war, loss, victory and surrender.

Of those who had lost loved ones, the scribe wrote: “For them it meant that other parents would not feel the deep-seated heartache that was theirs. For in those far-off lands on those stinking tiny islands of the Pacific, in the shell pocked soil of Europe, lay the bodies of their sons, their brothers, their nephews –

yes there lay too, perhaps a sister or a niece. The war had been over long ago, for some of the dead.”

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark

Source: The Fargo Forum Extra, Morning, August 15, 1945

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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