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Letter: We should never forget why we fought in WWII

We should never forget why we fought in WWII

I wish to comment on the excellent News editorial titled, “With Gratitude,” about victory in Europe, V-E Day, on May 8, 1945, 70 years ago.

I am one of the 1 million American veterans of World War II gratefully still alive, of the 16 million in the armed forces who served then, and shall never forget that day. Our 3rd Army replacement unit was tented on the estate grounds of Richard Wagner, renowned German composer, in Bayreuth, Germany, just a few miles from the Czechoslovakian border. Hitler visited this site for his vacations during the heyday of the Third Reich.

Gen. George Patton, in charge of the 3rd Army, had orders to stand ground as the Russians were allowed to advance on Berlin. We later learned this plan was agreed upon by the leaders of the major powers: Great Britain, the United States and Russia.

We got our news that the war had ended when I noticed and read a brief typewritten note stating the time and date, May 8, nailed to a tree near our tent. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day – a great day to rejoice.

With the exciting announcement, word spread and we gathered in a nearby field to celebrate and enjoy a keg of German beer. There was no cheering or shooting off our guns, just talk and reflection. The highlight of the day was when a number of Nazi fighter planes swooped over us, tipped their wings and landed close by to surrender. The war was really over, at least in Europe.

I vow to mention this major event on every future May 8 that the Lord gives me the privilege to experience. Generations of my family will hopefully carry on the tradition. Americans should never forget war’s brutality and why we fought in World War II.

Michael A. Altieri