On May 30, 1945, the United States celebrated a Memorial Day full of conflicting emotions. The euphoria over the recently declared Allied victory in Europe brought hope to this war-beleaguered nation. There was also optimism that the war in Japan was winding down, bringing an end to WWII.

Fort Lauderdale Daily News – May 30, 1945

On the other hand, millions mourned their war dead, many soldiers were still missing or being held POW, and the country was reeling from the sudden death of wartime president Franklin D. Roosevelt weeks earlier. Let’s take a look at some historic newspaper clippings from Memorial Day 1945 to see how Americans honored their veterans.

Tucson, Arizona: Four-year-old Betty Jo Pacheco laid a wreath on the grave of her father, Pvt. Robert M. Pacheco, who was killed three months earlier in Germany. She was surrounded by veterans of four wars, including 105-year-old Civil War veteran Francis Mengoz.

Arizona Daily Star – May 31, 1945

Wilmington, Delaware: Memorial Day headlines brought happy news to Delawareans when The News Journal reported that seven POWs from Delaware had just been freed.

Munich, Germany: In Munich, American flags flew as soldiers from the 45th Infantry Division gathered at Konigsplatz to hear Memorial Day remarks from American military leaders. The square was the scene of an elite military parade several years earlier for Hitler and Mussolini.

Columbus, Indiana: Even with the war winding down, some were still being called to serve. On May 30, 1945, the Columbus Herald reported that William H. Burton had just been drafted into the Navy. The father of five served six months before being discharged.

Okinawa, Japan: There was intense fighting on Okinawa, and Marines from the First Marine Division moved towards Shuri ridge. Richard P. Ross, who had been aboard the USS Oklahoma when she sank at Pearl Harbor, braved sniper fire and hoisted a flag above a medieval fortress called Shuri Castle

San Pedro, California: In California, the San Pedro News-Pilot published a photograph of the fresh graves around the world and spoke of the millions of heartsick Americans. The paper noted that even though it was a holiday, work continued in war plants and government offices.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Capt. Joseph T. Marnell, serving in a medical detachment, sent a letter to his wife back home. It was printed on Adolf Hitler’s stationery and read, “You can see by this very personal stationery that conditions have improved some. I picked this up in Adolf’s private apartment in Munich when we arrived recently.”

Chicago Tribune – May 28, 1945

Rochester, New York: Sgt. James Ecksten, who had just been discharged from the war, rode alongside his great-grandfather, Civil War veteran William A. Hard, in the Memorial Day parade.

To see more headlines from Memorial Day 1945, search Newspapers.com today!

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28 thoughts on “Memorial Day 1945

  1. Thank you for this look into WWII newspapers. My generation fought in VietNam, but my father’s generation fought in WWII. It seems sadly that thee is no end to wars to fight and men/women to sacrifice everything.. I honor those who served and pray for peace in the future.N

    1. My ancesters were in I beleive in every war this nation has been in.
      I’m very discusted with the way that our congress jumps into every war with any excuse it can find.
      Why are we in so many places fighting for who? We are not in any danger from most of the people we made enemies of. We shouldn’t be fighting for the fredom of other nations from their selves.

      1. We were attacked at Pearl Harbor. Japan, Germany and Italy had a pact to support each other. During that war we fought a principled fight. I worry that too many now would whine about fighting and would certainly want a volunteer military to fight rather than go to war themselves. Too many people now are selfish and only think about themselves and not the greater good.

        1. Indeed. I am a WWII veteran, served aboard ship in the Pacific and was bombed and strafed by Japanese fighters numerous times.

          1. My grandfather was also aboard ship in the pacific in WWII, bombed by Japanese. We wrote a book about his experience called This is War. He was on the USS Brooks.

        2. I agree with you completely. My father had already served 4 years in the US Marines and was working. He was lucky his company gave him unlimited leave for the duration of the war. He was 25 years old when he reentered the Marine Corps. Today people have little or no patriotism and don’t understand how blessed we are to live in the USA>

          1. Can’t agree with you MORE! I was Air Force in the Cold War, Cuban Crisis, you know the one when we came within a hair’s breadth Nuclear War. Our planes got the fanning evidence of Castro’s missiles. I remember President Kennedy ‘s afternoon tv announcement that no Russian ships would be allowed to pass our blockade. We all watched that tv screen and none of us flinched, knowing we were in for it. I’m proud.to have been with those guys!I
            R. Thompson, 14th Sqd, 3336th Recon Grp, Shaw AFB, South Carolina. 1959-1963. (RF-101 & F-101B, “We kill’m with Film’m!”

      2. AMEN John!!! My sweet husband is a disabled Vietnam Veteran who has been residing in the local VA Hospital for 8 years. My dad was in WWII and helped liberate Dachau. My husband and I had relatives in every war since the Civil War, and possibly the Revolutionary War too. Our son is a “lifer” in the Air Force. When is it going to end? I find it offensive to stick our noses in every country’s business and insist they do things our way or we’ll adjust their way of thinking quickly. If war wasn’t so profitable to some of us – would we be stretched so thin in so many places???

        Remember those who died in all these wars and “conflicts” this Memorial Day. Our celebrations and thanks will be done differently this year, but the thoughts should be the same!
        God bless the USA!

      3. Yes sir, you are correct, charity begins at home and too many o our own families are doing without.

  2. These newspapers offer a fascinating glimpse into the stories of the years of WWII. Who knew of reports of the total cost of the war exceeding a trillion dollars! I thought that figure hadn’t appeared until the 21st century! And Civil War vets attending memorial services and parades for soldiers, sailors and Marines of that era. A valuable slice of the home front 75 years ago! Thank you.

  3. These newspaper articles are especially interesting to me because I was born on May 30, 1945. My mother watched a Memorial Day parade in her hometown and went into labor shortly afterwards. One of her good friends took her to the hospital because my father was in the Army and stationed in the Philippines. He didn’t get to meet me until August 1945. I’ll look forward to reading each of these papers and thanks for sending them.

  4. My father was a Tech 4 Medic aboard a DC3 carrying out the first repariation flight of wounded from the D-Day landings and having refuelled in Iceland was lost when the on the last leg of the journey back to the USA and declared KIA in July 1946 – his namer was
    Edlar W Gosselin of Minnesota. To the father I never met I salute you for your service.

  5. My father was a Survivor from Pearl Harbor. My Dad did not always talk about the war. He did tell us somethings like the captions were sleeping off being drunk from the night before and the men on board had to break open the guns to defend themselves. My dad said he was one of the Navy men to help get the dead out of the burning waters as well as the wounded. I remember him talking about the only communication home was a card they could mail. He checked the box I am alive…I thank all Veterans for their Service…

  6. Sergeant Woodrow Jefferson Hinton enlisted after Pearl Harbor. Feb of 1942 he Was in first group of 504th Regiment of Newly organized 82nd Airborne. Made every jump, every battle. Never wounded. Proud of their reputation with Germans as “devil dogs”. When he returned to the US, he opened a service station in San Antonio. He traded with fellow vets to extent possible. His men talked highly of him.

  7. My brother-in-law, James XXX, went to the Navy recruitment office the day after Pearl Harbor but was rejected because he was not yet 18 years old. He went to another office, lied about his age, and was accepted. He was selected to join a special USNavy group that was joined to the Republic of China Navy, I still have his ROC navy ID card. He shipped out on a Chinese ship and served behind the lines with a group known as the Sino-American Cooperative Organization. His group was on the last ship that departed Shanghai harbor under fire as the Nationalists relocated to Taiwan. A book was written about the group, “The Rice Paddy Navy”.
    Thanks to all who have served our country.

  8. As we approach this coming Memorial Day I would like to pay tribute to all the families who have lost someone to war. I am veteran who served in a time when War was only a distant memory after Vietnam and before 9/11. Like many other others I had a family member who was killed in war. It happened in WWII. His name was Trinidad R. Munoz, PFC U S Army. He was killed February 12, 1945 during an operation in France. I had eight uncles as well as my father who served in different branches of the Armed Services during WWII and one who served and was wounded in Korea. Only one did not come back. I can only imagine the pain and anguish of that loss. There are many more young men and women who have been lost to war since that generation. There will probably be more in the future until war is eliminated as a means of resolving issues between countries. I doubt it will ever happen. The families of the fallen will only have those memories of their loved ones who were young once and decided to serve their country knowing what may come, but they went anyway. The Bible says it best in John chapter 15:13 which says “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. Many of our young men and women have sacrificed themselves so that others may live. As honorable as that is, I know we would rather have them come home and have long and joyous future with us. My uncles that did come home and had a productive life and lived a long time. There is one that is in his mid-nineties. The one that didn’t never got to have a family or future of his own. Like many others he will never experience the joys of raising a family or a future well spent. All that we have is their memory and we should cherish that until our time comes to meet again. Celebrate their memory. God Bless you all “FAMILIES OF THE FALLEN”.

  9. It must have been a very difficult time. And I can certainly understand the bittersweet moments had. Some military folks had made it home and others had passed or were missing. And war was still not over with Japan. Yet people took a strong grasp of the good because Germany had been won over and it was over. God Bless all of our brave Military with the utmost respect.

  10. I remember Memorial Day 1945 as I was a 12 year old boy whose father James Tinnell had enlisted in the Army at age 34. He landed at Utah Beach in June 1944 and after Le Havre was liberated he spent the remainder of the war serving at that port. I recall being very anxious during that time about his safety until after VE Day. I was shocked as was the rest of the country at the death of FDR but was happy on that Memorial Day that my dad may soon be coming home, provided he did not get sent to the Pacific Theater. That did come to pass about 5 months later, much to the relief of that, then, 13 year old boy who had watched that war while holding his breath. I was among the more fortunate of the children in the community.
    Our small Iowa town had several boys who did not come home. Those seemed to be the ones who showed the most promise of a bright future. One, in particular, was killed just a few days prior to VE day and that made May 30, 1945 a very painful day for the entire community. Our town was not unique in the tragedies that befell it. For this reason we all should take a moment to reflect upon sacrifices of our service men and women and the citizens who lost family or friends on this and other Memorial Days, as well as other days of the year.

    1. Iowa lost a family of five the same day. They were brothers known as The Fighting Sullivan’s (George, Frank, Joe, Matt and Al) and all died trying to save their injured brother while on a ship torpedoed by the enemy. All gave some, some gave ALL. To those brave men and women who served so I may be free. I Salute You ALL. God Bless each of you and thank you for your bravery, sacrifice and courage

  11. My father ,Capt. Floyd O. Swonger, was a tank commander in the Battle of the Bulge. On Memorial Day, 1945, I was five years old. My mother, sister, brother and I were on the enclosed porch of our small “wartime” home.
    I can still feel the thrill, knowing Dad would be coming home soon to this small town of Ligonier, Indiana . Church and fire bells rang out in joy.

  12. My Father was a prisoner of war for 14 months in a German camp, luckily not Japan. He did not speak much of his experiences until the 8th Air Force had reunions. Then we learned that he & another prisoner made an American flag out of RAF uniforms, sheets, & Red Cross red felt needle holders. It was discovered by the guards & burned. Other prisoners made a Monopoly game to help pass the time. Because his first language was Swedish, my grandparents having immigrated from there in 1911, he was able to understand the German guards as the languages are similar. He was liberated in May 1945. At 6′ tall he weighed only 140 lbs. The food they got was a thin soup and black bread. His name was Roland Johnson, 1st Lieutenant from Minneapolis. Rest in peace in Dad 1916-1998. I plan on sharing this information with his 3 great-grandsons this Memorial Day so they can understand what this holiday is all about.

  13. My dad was a lighthouse keeper in northern Michigan on Lake Superior. My mother took us into town. It was magical, all the church bells were ringing and people were out all over town.

  14. To Serviceman William Horn and all other veterans: Thank you for your sacrifices during war – you protected us and we thank you.

  15. I am a retired USAF CMSgt who has served in Turkey, Okinawa and Korea. I’ve never been shot at but I know some who have. Today, with the local VFW, my brother, an Army vet, and I placed flags in the Sallisaw, Oklahoma City Cemetery (about 900 of them) at the footstones of the folks who served in several wars or so-called conflicts. Our uncle served in Italy in WWII and is buried there along with several other of our family friends so it was an honor to do it. We must remember and never diminish the sacrifice so many have made to preserve the freedom we enjoy!

    1. Thank you “SIR” for your sacrifice, your courage and bravery for allowing myself and others to live in Freedom. My father was a WWII veteran of Saipan and Okinawa (at the age of 18 just 5 months from his HS graduation. He never told me or my siblings a single word about his time. His brother (my uncle Jim) was a paratrooper and served in Europe losing an eye when a sniper shot him when he was snagged in a tree after his jump. God Bless You Always

  16. My Uncle Greer Wardell Pickler was the recipient of three purple hearts for wounds he received on Okinawa during WWII. He lost right eye and part of his ear. He had scrap medal removed from his body over a long period time.

    My Uncle Arthur E McDowall was killed in action in 1943 with Army Engineers of Pocatello, Idaho In Secily, Italy. He is interned in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial Nettuno, Città Metropolitana di Roma Capitale, Lazio, Italy. He was awarded a Purple Heart for heroism.

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