Memories of World War II
By Barbara D., Highlands Resident
I think I was about twelve, and sitting in the living room with my family one night, listening to the radio, when we became aware of a distant noise. We ran outside and looked up at the night sky. What we saw was an astonishing sight, for as far as the eye could see, there were lines of light passing overhead, from one end of the horizon to the other, from airplanes flying overhead, wingtip to wingtip, row after row. It was both thrilling and fearful, for we knew something big was about to happen. Then a few weeks after that night, news came over the radio that the D-Day invasion of Europe had begun. As a child I had no idea what that meant, but I sensed a high level of anxiety in the adults of my family, and in neighboring families around us. Many business owners in my small town closed their shops to mark the gravity of the situation, and many neighbors gathered in their churches to pray and to comfort one another with the singing of familiar hymns, for they knew that the injuries and deaths resulting from invading and reclaiming Europe again would take a take a terrible toll on the soldiers involved in that enormous effort.
I also remember the day the war ended. I was visiting my grandparents in Hertford, a small town in North Carolina. Across the street from my grandparents’ house was a little white-frame Episcopal Church with a door that was always unlocked so that people could come in and pray. As soon as the news spread throughout the town that the Japanese had surrendered, I ran across the street and, grabbing the rope, began ringing the bell in the steeple. In a few minutes another church bell began to toll somewhere in the town, and then another, and another, as the news spread that the war was over. It was an exciting and joyful moment, and one of great relief as families realized that their son or uncle or cousin or father would soon be coming home. I imagine that all over America on that summer day individuals and families were rejoicing, and planning picnics, parades, band concerts, and fireworks and feasts. Butter and sugar would no longer be rationed, allowing cakes and pies, jellies and jams to be made again. Now gasoline and tires would no longer be rationed and so travel and vacation trips would be possible again. We could visit favorite cousins again. And we could request our favorite desserts and candy again. We no longer had to save tin cans or scavenge discarded metal.