On this date in 1945 the war in Europe that we know as WWII came to an official end. Germany had surrendered unconditionally, There was sporadic fighting going on and things were not smoothed out, but at least from an organizational viewpoint we were done and people in Europe could breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate. Out in the Pacific and in Asia the fighting continued till August. But this was a day to remember.
In other news, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opened at Gilmore Gardens in New York City in 1877. Pharmacist John Pemberton first sold a carbonated beverage called “Coca-Cola” as a patented medication in 1886. The Beatles released their 12th and final album, Let It Be, in 1970. And the team of Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler made the first ascent of Mt Everest without supplemental oxygen in 1979.
The man who brought us the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, was born on this date in 1737, as was the man who lead the Mexican Revolution and is considered the father of the nation Miguel Hidalgo y Costila, born in 1753. The co-founder of the Red Cross – Henry Dumont was born in 1828. And the co-writer and composer of many stage musicals -Oscar Hammerstein, was born in 1846.
President Harry Truman – the man who had a desk sign saying “the buck stops here” was born in 1884. And the man who gave us chills and fears for our summer afternoons at the beach – Peter Benchley (Jaws) – was born in 1940.
Three popes died on this date: John II (535), Boniface IV (615), and Benedict II (685). French novelist Gustave Flaubert laid down his pen in 1880, and French painter Paul Gagain laid down his brush in 1903. American sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein ceased his imaging of strange new worlds in 1988. And we saw the passing of a man of courage, Edmund G Ross in 1907. He was the deciding vote in the Senate impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. He chose to vote no and thus the president remained in office. His story was dramatically told in JFK’s book Profiles in Courage.
As well as being VE Day this date is also recognized as World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day internationally.