Most millennials don’t know what VE Day is, historians say they should

HOST INTRO: Next week marks a very important moment in World War II. VE Day, also known as Victory in Europe Day that marked the end of the war in the European front.

Archival tape of Truman: General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly all over Europe.

HOST INTRO: That was president Harry Truman 74 years ago. But do young people still know about VE today and does it matter? Andrea Salcedo took the streets to find out.

SALCEDO: This morning I walked around Columbia University’s quad to talk history with students.

SALCEDO: Do you know what it’s actually VE Day or Victory Day, the upcoming date in may 8th?

STUDENT 1: What, what date?

SALCEDO: May 8th. VE or Victory E Day.

STUDENT 2: It’s gotta be either when they took Berlin… (laughs) Oh dear, or when they took ____yeah, I don’t know.

STUDENT 3: I am vaguely aware… mhmm. I know it has something to do with like allies having victory over the axis powers, kind of like a celebration type, but I don’t really know… remember much to be honest.

SALCEDO: If I asked you what VE Day is, this coming May 8th, that’s when VE Day takes place, do you know what happened in VE Day?

STUDENT 3: VE Day? What is VE Day?

SALCEDO: Victory Day.

STUDENT 3: Victory Day? No… I don’t know that. Sorry.

SALCEDO: Kurk Dorsey, chair of the History Department at the University of New Hampshire says he is not surprised that many college students don’t know enough about VE Day or the second world war. But he thinks everyone should care.

DORSEY 1: No matter who you are, living in the United States or when your ancestors came to the United States, people in the 1940s who were in your family tree were affected by the war. The study of history and knowing enough about the grand causes of a war and how the war ended will help you understand your place in the world.

SALCEDO: William Keylor, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University, agrees that it’s important for everyone to know about key events in history.

KEYLOR 1: Just from the standpoint of citizenship and good citizenship, it’s important for the voters are aware in the past.

SALCEDO: Victory in Europe Day is widely celebrated in Europe. It is a national in France. Here in New York, May 8th will also mark the opening of the “Not long, not far away” exhibit at the museum of Jewish Heritage, showcasing artifacts    from survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Andrea Salcedo, Columbia Radio News.  

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