President Truman announces V-E Day, victory-in-Europe, on May 8, 1945.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 6/07/1999
  • Essay 1279
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At 6:00 a.m. on May 8, 1945, Washington state hears President Harry Truman (1884-1972) announce that the war in Europe is over with the surrender of Germany. But World War II as a whole is not over because Japan has not yet surrendered.

War (Almost) Over

Few in the state took time to celebrate because there was an enemy across the Pacific Ocean to defeat. To reduce the temptation to rejoice, liquor stores and taverns were ordered closed and extra police were assigned to downtown Seattle streets.

Across the state, Boeing Company airplane plants and other wartime manufacturing plants did not let up at all.

One of the few public demonstrations was a brief ceremony at Fort Lawton with a parade of troops stationed there and a brief speech by Colonel P. B. Parker, the commanding officer. During the day Allied flags appeared, but the United States flag was still flown at half mast.

Not A Time To Celebrate

To give a push to the war effort Seattle Mayor William F. Devin (1898-1982), who was Seattle mayor from 1942 to 1952, issued the following proclamation:

“With the thrilling news of victory in Europe which has just reached us, we seem to hear an audible sigh of relief go up from the American people, saying, ‘Thank God that much is done.' This utterance of gratitude is made in true sincerity and thankfulness to the Almighty for the victory which is ours over the forces of evil and despotism.

In many a home today throughout our nation there will be prayers for thanksgiving uttered, for now the hope of seeing their loved ones return home is closer than before. But in other homes, while there will be joy and anticipation, it will be dampened by the thoughts that their loved ones are still waging a bitter battle in the Pacific area.

To those forces in the Pacific and Far East the news of victory in Europe will be most encouraging, but it will not mean the end of the war to them. Neither must it mean the end of the war to any of us on the home front. It should serve as a stimulus to spur us on to even greater efforts to make victory complete on all fronts.

We must beware of overconfidence. We still are engaged in a bitter struggle against a powerful enemy. This enemy cannot be defeated without the continued total effort of all of us.

Let us therefore resolve to redouble our efforts and to swing the last crushing blows upon the enemy with unrelenting force. Let us resolve to stay on the job, buy war bonds, and work harder than before. Only in this way can we save the lives and stop the suffering of our American men who still are engaged in battle.

This is not the appropriate time to celebrate. Men still are dying. This is not the time to make revelry. Ships and planes still are needed. This is the time humbly and reverently to give thanks to God for the victory which is ours, to renew our hope and trust, and to work harder than ever before. -- William F. Devin, Mayor” (Star, p. 3).


“Seattle Takes V-E Day in Stride, Points for Japan,” The Seattle Star, May 8, 1945, p. 1, 2; “Devin Urges All to Remain On Job Until Final Victory,” The Seattle Star, May 8, 1945, p. 3.

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