BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — It's quiet at the corner of 4th and Boston in downtown Tulsa on Friday afternoon, 75 years ago it was a different story.
Ticker tape fell as crowds took to the streets celebrating victory over Japan and the end of World War II on what is now known as V-J Day.
94-year-old WWII veteran Frank Riesinger knows all about it. He was there.
“Probably one of the most thrilling days of my life," he said. "The paper coming down and trying to catch the paper. Seeing the girls form their congo line, lining up and down the street. Cars are all driving by, honking their horns. And that just went on for hours and hours and hours in Downtown Tulsa.”
Riesinger is carrying on those celebrations 75 years later and isn’t letting a pandemic stop him.
“I’ve got another year or two to live," he said. "Maybe, maybe, a little bit longer, but probably not. Maybe not more than a week or two. I don’t know when my time’s up. But anyway what have I got to lose? So, I’m going to celebrate because it was so important to me, the war.”
This year’s anniversary comes with a flyover and a party at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center.
Riesinger has hundreds of pieces of memorabilia. Including a newspaper from nearly every day during the war. He’s only missing 22. He said V-J Day is important because, while America celebrates Veterans Day on Nov. 11, that day marks the end of World War I.
“But we never had celebrated the end of World War II," he said. "Which was a far, far greater war than world war one was.”
Riesinger has done a lot to remember that joyous day 75 years ago, but it’s coming to an end. He said this is the last year for his V-J Day celebration. For one, there are not many WWII veterans still alive. And he believes it’s too far in the past.
“When I was a kid, I looked back about 75 years to the Civil War and we didn’t celebrate that," he said. "So, it’s been too long.”
Meanwhile, Riesinger will continue collecting and will never forget what the country went through for freedom.
“It’s intense with me," he said. "It’s interesting to me. It’s important to me. And that’s my life. And so, that’s why I made myself remember.”
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