The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

World War II

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Victory and Peace

Victory

The Allies celebrated the collapse of Germany and victory in Europe on V-E day, May 8, 1945. Across Britain, Europe, and the United States, jubilant crowds took to the streets, their elation—and relief—tempered by the knowledge that war still raged in the Pacific. But the celebrating was unrestrained on August 15, 1945, when Japan admitted defeat. “This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor,” said President Harry Truman. “This is the day when Fascism finally dies.” Surrender documents were signed on September 2 in a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.


Exhibition Graphics

Germans sign surrender documents

Germans sign surrender documents

The USS Missouri

The USS Missouri

Japanese sign surrender documents

Japanese sign surrender documents

Celebrating in the streets of New York

Celebrating in the streets of New York

Allied troops celebrate victory over Japan

Allied troops celebrate victory over Japan

GIs homeward bound

GIs homeward bound

GIs arrive in New York harbor aboard the Queen Mary

GIs arrive in New York harbor aboard the Queen Mary


Peace

Peace was won, but an uncertain future lay ahead. Although the American economy was booming and the nation’s spirits were high, eight years of war had left cities worldwide in ruin, economies in shambles, and civilian populations displaced and ripe for unrest. The United States championed the establishment of the United Nations (chartered in June, 1945), daring to hope that it would keep world peace and safeguard U.S. economic and political interests worldwide.

Even as tensions with the Soviet Union surfaced, American forces were rapidly demobilized and millions of GIs returned home. Veterans sought a return to normal life. The GI Bill made it possible for all returning veterans to achieve the American dream of owning a home of their own. Educational subsidies and job-finding aid helped many veterans increase their earning and spending power. And more than four million no-down-payment, low-interest mortgages helped them finance the purchase of a new house (costing about $8,000). The GI Bill fueled an unprecedented growth of America’s middle class and contributed to the phenomenal spread of suburbs nationwide.


Exhibition Graphics

United Nations charter ceremony

United Nations charter ceremony

United Nations poster

United Nations poster

Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations, 1947

Eleanor Roosevelt at the United Nations, 1947



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