Special Report

75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe

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or 75 years, the United States and European nations have celebrated May 8 as the day World War II ended in Europe. Over that long stretch, the world’s fascination with that war has only strengthened. We continue to look back in awe at the courage of British and American bomber crews who flew missions to Germany—into what broadcaster Edward R. Murrow called, in one of the features in this collection, “a terrible symphony of light and flame.” We still read about the D-Day invasion with disbelief that the complex plans for the largest naval invasion in history came together and ended in success.

More and more in recent years, we’ve learned about the war not from the point of view of political leaders and military commanders, but from the experiences of the people who flew the airplanes, worked in the factories that built them, and ferried them from factory to airfield. With this collection, we’ve assembled many of those varied experiences, along with descriptions of the U.S. aircraft that played an important role—not just in the European theater, but throughout World War II. With these stories we commemorate what President Harry Truman called, in his announcement of victory on May 8, 1945, “this solemn and glorious hour.” — Linda Shiner

Photo: U.S. Eighth Air Force B-17s fly beneath the contrails of their fighter escorts on a 1943 mission to Germany.

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