The campaign, organized by Keep the Spirit of ‘45 Alive, a New York-based non-profit, non-partisan organization, does not propose a national holiday, but an officially recognized day— the second Sunday of each August — to remember the World War II generation.
Today would be that day. It was 65 years ago on Aug. 14, 1945, that it was announced to the world that World War II had ended.
While it was 65 years ago, there are those who still remember hearing those words, “The war has ended.”
Lorcey Sonnier was 19 years old when he heard the news. He was in a field in Montana fighting a fire with local firemen. He and other servicemen who flew on 30 B-17 bomber missions were sent to Montana because there was no more need for bombers.
“We were waiting for the war to end,” Sonnier said. “We knew it was slowly coming to an end. We were told by firemen. We had a big ball that night.”
Sonnier, who flew in 30 missions as a tail gunner on the B-17 plane “Ack Ack Annie,” was discharged Oct. 4, 1945. He moved back to Leroy to become a rice farmer.
“We were lucky we never got shot down,” the 86-year-old Sonnier said. “It was close.”
Opta Trahan also feels lucky he and his buddies in the Army did not have to invade Japan during the end of the war.
After fighting for 90 days on the Phillipine Islands, Trahan’s infantry’s next assignment was to invade Japan.
But the war ended before the ship reached Japan.
“We were scared to death,” Trahan said about going to Japan. “We were on the ship when they announced the news (war ended). Thank God. We were jumping and yelling when we heard the news.”
His ship did go to Japan but it turned out to be a friendly stay. He stayed in Japan for six months.
There are those who remember the ending of the war at a young age.
“During the summer of 1945 at the young age of 15, I was spending the summer with my sister in Port Arthur, TX. I worked at the Marvel Ice Cream Parlor. On the afternoon of August 14th, we heard horns blowing, saw cars parading down the street, and people sitting on the hoods of the cars shouting “The war is over!” Everyone at the ice cream shop ran outside and we all cheered. What an afternoon,” said Beverly Butaud Guidry Collatt.
Dolores Gros Young was a sophomore at S.L.I. (Now UL-L) which had an enrollement of about 1,000 people, mostly girls.
“Upon hearing of the end of the war, all students gathered on Jefferson Street (in Lafayette) and formed a snake dance, joyfully dancing and celebrating. Oh, to have the energy again,” said Young, who is now 83 years old.
“ As a young boy of seven years old, I can distinctly remember three things about the end of World War II,” said Paul Moresi Jr. “The first was the “blackouts”. My parents, Paul and Hazel Moresi, had a small breakfast room in the house, with only one window in the room. On the evenings of the days of the blackouts, we would cover the window with black drapes and would huddle in that small room to listen to the radio for news of the war.
“The second distinct memory I have is of rationing of sugar and tires. I also remember my father commenting on how difficult it was to get new automobiles at that time.
“The third memory is of the war’s end. I was playing in the back yard of our home one sunny afternoon. We had no air conditioning in the house at that time, but our home had an attic fan. All of the windows of the house were open. I remember hearing laughter, cheering and clapping. I went into the house to see what had occurred and my father told me that the war had ended. I can still remember the joy and relief in my parents’ faces.”