Amanda Wiehler

Dear Diary,

It was 1945, the year when Jo Stafford and The Andrew Sisters would be singing on my Philips 470A radio. My friends and I would dance the jitterbug at local dance clubs around town. 1945 was the year when I visited the local theater and watched Ava Gardner's performance of She Went to the Races for a quarter. I was given my first car in 1945, a Chevrolet Fleet master. I can hardly believe it would only cost sixteen cents a gallon to fill up the tank. Also, when I would go to the grocery store with my mother, it would only cost her a dime for a loaf of bread. Following this further, I distinctly remember reading George Orwell's controversial Animal Farm. In addition, I recall hearing about the invention of the microwave oven. It took me several years to figure out what it was and how it worked. While my life in 1945 was decent, I now see the hardships that men and women faced during that year. My uncle Lonny, who was in the navy, and my cousin Richard, who was in the army, shared with me the news of the war.

My uncle Lonny would send my family news reports each month about the nation's condition in the war. He told me about his many experiences in the war in the Pacific. I was saddened to hear about the horrible losses of men in the Battle of Iwo Jima. He even told me that if not for one brave sailor, he would have been left behind to perish when his leg was wounded. I remember hearing on the radio that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met at the Yalta Conference to plan the organization of Europe after the war on the same day that we received uncle Lonny's letter.

I recall that as we were sitting in front of the fireplace in February, we heard the news of the President's inauguration. Later that month, I read in the local newspaper of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. I did not fully understand what a concentration camp was until I saw multiple pictures in the paper of the horrors of what Adolf Hitler had done in the name of the German people. A couple of months later, my cousin Richard sent a letter describing his involvement in the war in Europe and the horrible conditions that he saw when he helped to liberate a Nazi concentration camp in April. April 1945 was a monumental month. President Franklin Roosevelt suddenly passed away of a cerebral hemorrhage on the 12th of April. In addition, Adolf Hitler committed suicide as the Red Army approached his bunker on the 30th of April. I was in school when I heard about Hitler's death. All I could think of was how relieved I was for the innocent victims in Nazi Germany.

In May of 1945, my uncle Lonny sent us a letter with a brief news report of the victory in Europe. The war ended for the European people. Unfortunately, the war did not officially end for the American people until the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can remember how nervous I was to hear of an atomic bomb. I was unclear as to how much damage a bomb could create in a country. I remember hearing on our radio about the goals of the trinity test in July. Only a month later, "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" were dropped on Japan. At first, I was glad because my family was happy of the bombings on Japan. It was not until I read uncle Lonny's letter did I realize the affects it had on the Japanese people.

I remember taking a picture with my mother standing in our "victory garden". I was reminded of how good it felt to grow our own food in our own backyard. I was glad to do my part in helping out with the war effort. My aunt Linda even worked in a local steel factory to help make parts for airplanes. In September of 1945, I recall how the whole nation went into a frenzy of celebration as the war was finally over. I was so happy to know that my cousin Richard and my uncle Lonny would be coming home for the first time in years. In October, just after the war, I found out in my humanities class that women were officially allowed to vote in France. I was astounded that it took hundreds of years to approve voting for all men and women. Additionally, in November of 1945, the Nuremberg trials began. I remember feeling sorrow for all of the men and women who lost their lives to such an atrocious act.

1945 was an unforgettable year. After this year, I began understanding the importance of nationalism. I also began understanding discrimination and its effects on society. Most importantly, I keep in mind the consequences of war. My views changed completely after this year, and I will forever hold the memories of 1945.

~Mary