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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane acknowledges V-E Day amid pledges to end the war against Japan

UPDATED: Fri., May 8, 2020

The May 8, 1945 edition of The Spokesman-Review. (S-R archives)
The May 8, 1945 edition of The Spokesman-Review. (S-R archives)

As news of Nazi Germany’s surrender spread around the world, Spokane was less than overwhelmed.

“Spokane calmly takes big news,” read a headline in The Spokesman-Review on the morning of May 8, 1945.

With the news from Europe dominating the front page, the story was buried on page 6. Its message was that the job was only half-done.

“News of the end of the war that cost one trillion dollars and millions of lives brought little evidence of jubilance from Spokane citizens yesterday,” it began.

“They proceeded about their routine tasks with only such thankful expressions as ‘It’s all over,’ and ‘This is It’ to mark their appreciation of the significance of the announcement,” the story continued.

The story didn’t carry a byline, but the writer soon warmed to the subject.

“No confetti, no impromptu parades, no noisy demonstrations – it was a city with one thought: ‘How long will it take to bring the same kind of news from the Pacific?’ ”

Apparently the rest of the region felt the same way: There was more work ahead.

Almost 3 1/2 years after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Empire of Japan was still at war. Even as America celebrated V-E Day, on the other side of the world its soldiers were fighting and dying on the island of Okinawa and over the skies of Tokyo.

With the end in sight, some Spokane citizens wanted to work harder to hasten the end of the war in the Pacific.

“Spokane War Workers Mark Triumph of Nazis by setting Presenteeism Record,” blared a headline in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on the afternoon of May 8, 1945, a few hours after the news arrived of the Germany surrender.

The story offered some uplifting details from the Mead aluminum reduction works, which reported that a record 98.2% of workers showed up for work that day.

“Our workers prefer to celebrate by fixing up a few more things for Hirohito,” plant manager Verne Gladden said.

It was the same story at the huge Alcoa rolling mill at Trentwood.

“We are helping to win another war and we will keep working today,” believing there is no better way to “celebrate V-E Day,” plant manager J.P. Haight said.

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