VJ Day in Downtown Fresno

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VJ Day in Downtown Fresno

Post by shirleyken » Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:24 pm

The City of Fresno reached 1945 optimistic that World War II might soon be over, yet grim and weary after four long years of war. President Roosevelt died in April--a terrible shock. VE Day soon followed. We celebrated that the conflict in Europe had come to an end, yet knew it wasn't over yet. We still must defeat Japan. By that time, many items were rationed, such as gasoline, meat, sugar, and shoes. There were severe shortages of unrationed items such as film, coffee, and cigarettes.

By 1945, all the young men were already serving. As a result, the military was "scraping the bottom of the barrel" and older, family men in their 30's were being drafted. My stepfather, who was 38, got his notice, and it was only because of his extremely flat feet that he was rejected. (He wanted to go, by the way. There were very few conscientious objectors in those days.)

Throughout the war, families with one or more members in the service hung a small flag with stars in their front window. Blue stars were for the living. Gold stars meant someone from that house had given their life for their country. By 1945, you could hardly drive a block without seeing a gold star.
Plans were well underway for the invasion of Japan. It's a little known fact that the military had built a huge warehouse in Fresno and was using it to store huge amounts of equipment meant for the invasion.(Check the Fresno Bee Archives. It was all auctioned off after the war.) Who knows how many more thousands of lives would have been lost if we had invaded a country prepared to fight to the last man?

So indeed, we had something to celebrate when the atom bomb was dropped and on August 14th, 1945, the war came to an end. VJ day had arrived! Everyone in Fresno, or so it seemed, rushed to downtown Fulton Street to celebrate. This was before the mall, of course. It was a joyful occasion, yet many tears were shed that day, including mine.

Controversy still exists concerning whether America should have dropped the bomb on thousands of innocent civilians. Yes, it was a horrible thing, yet who knows how many thousands of American lives were saved because of it? It's easy to pass judgement, but the bottom line reads: You had to be there.

This is a photo from the Fresno Bee, August 15, 1945. The headline reads JAPANESE WAR ENDS.
VJ Day003.jpg


Re: VJ Day in Downtown Fresno

Post by IllyKaz » Thu May 21, 2020 11:13 pm

Thank you for writing this piece. I've just learned of this website, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading up on all of Fresnos past History šŸ˜€

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