Europe, U.S. Commemorate 70th Anniversary of VE Day


Russia staged a massive military parade Saturday in Moscow’s Red Square to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day — the day in 1945 when Nazi troops laid down their arms, ending World War II.

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Russia’s main World War II allies – the United States, Britain and France – for helping to defeat the Nazis.

This year’s parade took place as Russia is embroiled in a standoff with Western countries over Ukraine because of Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and allegations that President Putin is supporting a deadly separatist conflict.

Russia’s ties with the West are at their lowest since the Cold War. Western leaders boycotted this year’s parade, leaving the Kremlin’s show of strength to be exhibited before about 20 leaders from countries that included China, Cuba and Zimbabwe, along with U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon.

US celebrations
Other European countries and the U.S. marked Friday the anniversary of VE Day.

In the United States, a large array of World War II aircraft flew over Washington in honor of veterans in town for a ceremony at the World War II memorial.

Organizers billed the Arsenal of Democracy: World War II Victory Capitol Flyover as “one of the most diverse arrays of World War II aircraft ever assembled.”

Starting from a Virginia airfield, 15 types of aircraft swept over the mall from the Lincoln Memorial, veering off southerly just before reaching the Capitol’s restricted airspace.

The hour-long air show cast the planes in historically sequenced formations, beginning with Piper L-Birds, twin-engine Cessna/Beaches, and Boeing Stearmans.

“I remember them from World War II, but I was just a kid then,” said Lewis Ewing, celebrating his 81st birthday at the flyover with his son, Mike, and granddaughter Jen Ewing.

They were among thousands lining the mall, streets, balconies and other spaces, hoping for a glimpse of the historic display.

The eldest Ewing, a retired bank CEO in Winchester, Virginia, served with the U.S. Army in Korea, escorting American diplomats as they were transported by helicopter to unsuccessful negotiations for a peace plan. He left the service as a colonel; now he directs the national Korean War Veterans Association.

Honoring troops
The flyover honored troops who served overseas and those at home who supported troops or who built the planes, ships and tanks that defeated Germany and the Axis powers.

The anniversary of the bloody war’s ending “reminds us of the price of freedom,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said earlier at the World War II National Memorial, at a ceremony honoring veterans.

She noted one positive consequence: “On the home front, the war effort unleashed opportunities” for women in the workforce and for integration of the services.

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SOURCE: VOA News, Carol Guensburg

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