Through Lonesomeness and Anxiety and Fear
After three years, eight months, and seven days of US participation in World War II, fighting unofficially ceased on this day in 1945. Imperial Japan accepted the terms of the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender (the Potsdam Declaration) after the US detonated atomic bombs in Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9.
On September 1, 1945, Japanese government officials signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, thereby formally ending the hostilities. In president Harry Truman’s radio address to Americans that day, his remarks of thanks and remembrance included ordinary citizens: “We think of all the men and women and children who during these years have carried on at home, in lonesomeness and anxiety and fear. Our thoughts go out to the millions of American workers and businessmen, to our farmers and miners—to all those who have built up this country’s fighting strength, and who have shipped to our Allies the means to resist and overcome the enemy.”
In Chicago, the neighborhoods were the building blocks of home front activities that almost immediately enveloped every family. The average city block had given seven residents to the military. Those who remained at home attended rallies, bought heroic amounts of bonds, endured food rationing, and grew victory gardens. Twenty thousand elected block captains held ceremonies for those departing for the military and erected small shrines for those who did not return. Neighbors joined to hold civilian defense drills as well as drives to collect scrap metal, paper, rubber, and grease for conversion into nitroglycerine.
In a war of such scale with so much to lose, the work and sacrifice of ordinary Americans during their everyday lives contributed toward the victory. Learn more about how World War II transformed life in Chicago in our Encyclopedia of Chicago entry. Read more.
“The Encyclopedia of Chicago is no mere collection of fun facts. It is a work of stunning scholarly achievement.” — Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times
Published by the University of Chicago Press, The Encyclopedia of Chicago is the result of a ten-year collaboration between the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum. This project brought together hundreds of historians, journalists, and experts on everything from airlines to Zoroastrians to explore all aspects of the rich world of Chicago and its surrounding metropolitan area. Read the Encyclopedia.