The official Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945 marked the end of WWII. For many Manhattan Project and war veterans, this was a moving and momentous day in American history. Sixty-five years later in different cities across the country, veterans and their families gathered to remember the history , share their personal experiences, and celebrate the end of WWII.
In Oak Ridge, the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association (ORHPA), a nonprofit dedicated to preservation of Oak Ridge's history, hosted a meeting at the historic Midtown Community Center (the "Old Wilcat Den"). In the room, veterans shared individual and collective stories and reminisced the profound implications of the atomic bomb. Bill Wilcox, the keynote speaker for the evening, even held up an original copy of the Knoxville Journal announcing the end of the war. As reported by The Oak Ridger, Ed Westcott, the famous Oak Ridge photographer who took the famous photograph of Oak Ridgers celebrating the end of the war also attended the program.
In Raleigh, NC, the celebration was similarly bittersweet. As reported by The Charlotte Observer, Worth Seagondollar, one of the veterans that was directly involved in the Manhattan Project, recalled a moment when he saw the explosion of the bomb at the Trinity Site on July 16, 1945. "It was like looking into a photographer's flashbulb, except that's concentrated in one place and this was just everywhere, the brightest light I've ever seen," he said.
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