Ed S. remembers where he was in the final days of World War II.
The resident of Elison Assisted Living of Bella Vita, then serving in the U.S. Army, was stationed on a hill, at the front of the Army’s advance into German territory. Their advance had stalled, albeit purposefully. Under an agreement made by the Allied leaders, Soviet forces were allowed to take Berlin, ending the war in Europe and setting the stage for the Cold War.
Thus, Ed and his fellow servicemen found themselves surrounded by Russian forces who, like the Americans, were hoping that the war in the Pacific could be brought to a swift end and the world could once again feel some semblance of peace.
One day, he saw a group of men running toward the hill. They were yelling in a foreign tongue. Neither Ed nor any of the other soldiers could understand Russian, but they knew what the Soviet troops were saying.
“[They] came running up the hill to celebrate, thinking the war was over,” Ed told The Daily Sun in November. “We couldn’t speak their language, but we all knew what they were talking about.”
The United States had just dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. Days later, the Japanese emperor took to the airwaves to address his people, informing them that the Japanese government intended to surrender.
The war was finally over. Civilians took to America’s streets to celebrate VJ Day, and US servicemembers slowly began to return home. For Robert, who served as a tanker and reached the rank of corporal, that homecoming occurred almost one year after that fateful day, as he finally set foot on US soil on August 17, 1946. One week later, he received his Honorable Discharge in his hometown of Chicago.
Following the war, Ed worked for the Rock Island Railroad as a carman, repairing railroad cars. One year later, he took a job in manufacturing. He eventually found his way to Ingersoll Products, where he worked his way up the ladder, eventually reaching the management level 30 years later.
Ed and his wife Lillian have been married for more than 70 years and they are both residents at The Brennity at Vero Beach Senior Living. Together, they have traveled to many different countries and all 50 states. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Ed’s experiences still shape him to this day. Despite his short career on the railroad, he still loves to construct model trains. Because of his military service, Veterans Day holds a special place in his heart. It’s a time when he can reflect on the impact that his time in the Army had on him, and the sacrifices that his fellow servicemembers made in the name of our country.
And, of course, the joy he felt knowing that the war was over and he was going home.