Last month I had to report on the June events from 75 years ago through the pages of the New York Times. Now, however, I was able to visit Girard Free Library in person and spend an hour researching the Girard News from the month of July, 1945.
The articles in the News were a welcome change from just a few months before. The paper was back to headlining local news, and there were very few articles reporting deaths of Girard boys. In the entire month of June, the paper only reported the death of one Girard boy. Of course that was still devastating to his family. He had been killed in a plane crash in England, not war related. Much happier news was the many who were reported home with their families on a 30 day leave. Even though the war in the Pacific was on, there was a lull after winning the Island of Okinawa while the preparations were made for the invasion of Japan. President Truman had promised the nation that when the invasion came it would consist of a force double the size of the entire current Pacific force. Thus, many of the men who were now enjoying their 30 day passes from the war worried that they would be shipped to the Pacific to participate in that invasion. So, the local paper was filled with local news. The headline for the Friday, July 6th edition was “Girard Local Post Office Rated First Class”. The article went on to explain that since 1916, Girard had been a second class post office. Apparently, the classification depended upon the amount of receipts collected per year. The annual receipts since 1940 had increased from $22,678 in 1940 to $45,224 in 1944. Being considered First Class certainly felt good.
The July 13th edition of the News reported that over 100 attended the Union Vesper Service last Sunday evening, July 8th, at the High School Stadium. Our Rev. Maly gave the Scripture Reading. The Sermon was given by Rev. James Foster of the First Baptist Church.
The headline for the July 20th issue of the News read “Walls New President of State F.O.P.” It went on to explain that Harold Walls, Chief of Police of the Village of McDonald was elected Ohio State President of the Fraternal Order of Police, when their organization held their annual War Conference at the Neil House in Columbus last Monday and Tuesday, July 10 and 11. The article went on to state that Chief Wells is one of the youngest members of the F.O.P. to hold the office of President of the Statewide organization - (Not to mention the size of the Village Police Force) He beat out Capt. Clyde Kuntz of Cleveland and Chief Cliff Courtney of Zanesville.
The Friday, July 27th edition of the News concerned the upcoming Primary Election for City seats Most were not contested, but the Republican ballot had what was expected to be a close contest for the Mayor’s race with the incumbent, Mayor Whitford seeking his 4th term. He was challenged by Louis Sabino, present Councilman at Large and Russell O. Vaughn, current President of Council.
There was the following article in the Society Section of the News: “Mr and Mrs D. W. Bloom announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Betty Lou Bloom to Pfc. Stephen W. Genetta, son of Mr and Mrs Andrew Genetta. No date has been set for the wedding. Pvt. Genetta has been serving with the Army of the European Theater Operations. He is now at home spending a 30 day leave. He is a graduate of Girard High School. Miss Bloom, also a graduate of Girard High School is a member of the Cadet Nurse Corps at the Youngstown City Hospital.”
I remember how friendly and welcoming the Genetta family was to Clyde and me when we joined our church back in ’59 and ‘60. Steve and Clyde became especially close friends, and Steve stood with Clyde as Best Man at our wedding. As our family grew, and their children were older than ours, we drifted apart sometime during the various teen years, but the happy memories remain.
This was our town and our church in July of 1945, taking advantage of the respite in the war for lifetime plans which they hoped would materialize for a happy ending.
Our church, our town, and our country in July of 1945 – 75 years ago
Then Jacob saw the Lord standing above the ladder, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your grandfather, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are now sleeping. Your descendants will be as many as the dust of the earth. They will spread west and east, north and south, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. I am with you and will protect you everywhere you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Genesis 28:13-15 NCV
In previous verses, we see that while sleeping, Jacob was envisioning a ladder that had heavenly beings on it. The Lord spoke to him in this dream. In this dream, God promised Jacob that not only he'd have His presence, but also His provision. When God says you will have what I promised you, He is promising provision and reassuring Jacob that His promises will become true.
How many times do we worry so much about provision? Will it be on time? Will it be enough? Why is this the current theme in many of our lives and hearts? If we know He will provide, why does a part of us doubt?
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us Remember that you are in control. Ease our worrisome hearts. If you choose to make us wait on you, give us peace.
We left our church family, and all Girard families, last month at the end of May in 1945, pondering the words of the Editor of the Girard News in a lengthy editorial which I included for all of us to read and reflect on. When I made a copy of his editorial back in early November of ’19just before I departed for my winter in Florida, I assumed that when I returned in May, I would have ample time to get to the Library and read through the News on Microfilm at the Girard Free Library to report on the happenings in Girard in June, July, August, etc. of 1945. However, as you all know, COVID-19, a “tiny little speck of nuthin”, came along and turned everything upside down and inside out.
Since I cannot go to the library, and the News is only available on microfilm, I had to find a substitute. As I have an on-line subscription to The New York Times, I naturally went to it. One of the advantages of a large paper is that it can make its work available on line. I can go back to 1945 and put in any date, and up comes the paper for that day. The entire paper passes from left to right, a page at a time, across my screen. I can zero in on any article, bring it up to readable size, and read it, then send it back to its little self, and on to another one. The downside is that this is an amazing time-waster!
After pulling myself back to the present, (that is concentrating on writing this blog), I decided to look at the headlines from the Times of June, feeling that they would more or less reflect the headlines in the Youngstown Vindicator, as most people in Girard read that paper regularly, in addition to the weekly News.
June of 1945 began on a Friday. The headline was about Okinawa. “Whole U. S, Army Line Drives Forward on Okinawa - Draws Net on Japanese Bastion, Trapping Many of Foe, as Marines Enter City -- Enemy Dead Mount to 61,519”.
The battle of Okinawa in the Pacific actually began on April 1st. Okinawa was needed to provide an air strip close enough to the mainland of Japan for the large American bombers to deliver their deadly cargo to Japan’s factories and cities, and return safely to their airfield base which we would construct on Okinawa, after removing the Japanese who were defending it.. To their surprise, when our troops stormed ashore on April 1st, they met . . . NOTHING. Their enemy on the island seemed to have vanished. Our troops and their equipment were offloaded with no resistance. It seemed like a dream world – a beautiful beach vacation on a remote tropical island. Reality set in when our boys turned to the interior hills. The hillsides contained numerous caves, which the Japanese had made an important part of their defense. They waited in the caves under cover with their guns pointing down at the advancing Americans. Each hill presented a formidable wall of firing artillery. Now, after almost two solid months of bitter hand-to-hand fighting with heavy losses on both sides, the American boys were winning. The enemy no longer held the high ground. The battle of Okinawa was the most costly one of the war. We lost 12,500 men killed in action. But estimates of the total deaths was much higher, from 14,000 to 20,000. Wounded in action ranged from 38,000 to 55,000. The only consolation was that we won the island and the Japanese lost almost their entire army stationed on the island along with about 20,000 conscripted Okinawans. Their losses were estimated at 110,000. Also, more than 7,000 were captured. Thus, the Battle for Okinawa would dominate the war headlines for most of June in 1945.
On June 1st, President Truman also addressed Congress to explain where we were in the war against Japan and what our future plans were. Our nation’s defense industry was still working at full throttle. The draft would be continued for the immediate future, and we would assemble a force of double the current size in the Pacific when we invaded the mainland of Japan. He warned the Japanese government that the devastation of their City of Tokyo would be repeated to all the cities of Japan that harbored any industry that contributed to their war effort. The President’s message to Congress “combined confidence, determination and realism” according to the New York Times.
Thus, the entire country was focused on the Island of Okinawa during the month of June, 1945. By the end of the month, we had won, but at a very high cost. Everyone wondered what the cost would be of invading the mainland of Japan. Families of victorious soldiers in the European Theatre worried that they would be sent, not home to them, but to Japan where they would be needed to fight against that enemy who had begun this awful war by waging a sneak attack on our fleet at Pearl Harbor back in December of 1941.
June of 1945, 75 years ago, a time of muted celebration of victories tempered by worry of a future invasion of Japan.
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