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Even before it was official, the end of World War II was met with a passionate rush of celebration and thankfulness. On the home front, where the previous four years had been an emotional lurch from doubt to dread to delight and back again, jubilation was tempered with sorrow and somber reflection, and a measure of uncertainty remained. The Second World War had wrought countless changes, and now, as the Axis lay shattered and radio flooded nearly every home with news, updates, commentary, and speculation about what lie ahead, war's end held nearly as much uncertainty as the dark days of the late 1930s.
The four radio broadcasts presented here come from original studio transcription disc recordings in the Arthur B. Church - KMBC Radio collection and the J. David Goldin collection in the Marr Sound Archives.
Click on the radiobuttons below to listen to the newscasts.
|Brief Descriptions of Audio Sound Files with Related Links|
At noon on Wednesday, August 15, 1945, Japan heard something unbelievable. Hirohito, the 124th Japanese Emperor and considered a deity, announced his country's surrender in a recorded radio address. This was the first time the Japanese people had heard their Emperor's voice. In the United States, where it was Tuesday, August 14, the news trickled out slowly and cautiously, and was met with equal disbelief. When the reality set in, jubilation swept the country, spilling into the streets from Times Square to Hollywood Boulevard and continuing the next day. As it had so often during the war, Columbia's news headquarters offered round-the-clock coverage and live remotes. In this report from Hollywood, along with the unchecked joy and celebration, the reporters encounter a wide range of hopes and dreams for post-war life, from loud ties to the end of fascism. Read a Text Transcription.
In stark contrast to the carousing denizens of Hollywood, V-J Day celebrations in President Truman's hometown of Independence, Missouri, had a distinctly all-American flavor. KMBC's John Cameron Swayze, reporting across the street from Truman's "summer White House" at 219 North Delaware, described a scene replete with families out for a stroll, kids on bicycles, and a white kitten, with true abandon limited to car horns and the occasional firecracker. This August 14, 1945, broadcast was a part of Columbia's continuous coverage of world celebrations on the eve of peace.
Despite Allied victory, shadows of loss and insecurity lingered on the home front. Even as Americans basked in triumph, and celebratory broadcasts filled the airwaves, euphoria remained tempered by sorrow: For every soldier joyously welcomed home, there remained a father, son, brother, or neighbor who would never return, and a changed world with an uncertain future. Ernie Pyle, the beloved frontline correspondent killed in the Pacific less than five months earlier, captured the bittersweet postwar atmosphere in this column which was featured on a September 2, 1945, victory special. Fittingly, Pyle's words are introduced by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Bill Mauldin, and read by Bob Hope, who brought the home front to soldiers around the world. Mauldin, an Army recruit who began cartooning for his division newspaper, gained fame through one of Pyle's columns and went on to communicate the human face of war through his drawings much as Pyle did through his writing.
When peace finally dawned, the world
awoke to lost innocence. A world-weary seriousness, further fueled by
growing cold-war uncertainty, seeped into literature, music, and film,
rivaling the flag-waving, stiff-upper-lip stoicism that dominated the
home-front during the war. Though sanitized combat pictures and happy-go-lucky
comedies were popular with post-war moviegoers, a new breed of darker,
grittier films soon rivaled them at the box-office. Dubbed film noir for
their shadowy imagery as well as the darkness of their plots and characters,
these films reflected the cynicism and doubt that colored the post-war
world. Soon, for every courageous Marine storming the beach on the silver
screen, there was a hardboiled private eye stumbling through a grim city
Voices of World War II: Experiences From the Front and at Home
|A project in partnership with the Truman
Presidential Museum and Library.
Audio from the collections of the Marr Sound Archives - Department of Special Collections.
Miller Nichols Library - University of Missouri - Kansas City.
|© 2001-2004 UMKC University Libraries. All Rights Reserved.||'Voices' Home Page|
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