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May is a month for remembering

Image of the front page of the New York Times from May 8 1945.

Most Americans know that May is the month of Memorial Day, but they may not realize there is another May holiday, once celebrated the world over, that has been widely forgotten on this side of the ocean.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, now observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

In Europe, however, where much of World War II was fought, there is a special significance to Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day.

There are many significant dates in World War II.  Tuesday, May 8, 1945 is especially important to Europe.  Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day commemorates the end of fighting in Europe as proclaimed by President Harry S. Truman. 

Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker on April 30, 1945 in the Battle of Berlin.  His successor, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, authorized the surrender of Germany.

V-E Day marks the surrender of the German armed forces.  The German surrender was signed by General Alfred Jodl, German chief of staff, at the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in Reims, France on May 7.

Under the terms of the unconditional surrender signed first at Reims and then in Berlin, the war against Germany officially ended at one minute before midnight on May 8. 

Celebrations occurred throughout Europe, especially in Great Britain and the United States.  The celebration in the US was curbed a little with the recent death of President Roosevelt.  His successor, Harry S. Truman dedicated the day to Roosevelt. 

The Soviet Government had decided that May 9 was to be Victory Day after the surrender papers were signed in Berlin.  May 9 is still the day celebrated in Russia.

Although the war was not over, it was the beginning to the end of World War II