BROKEN ARROW, OK (KJRH) — August 14 is one of the most special days of the year for some of the bravest men and women in our nation's history. V-J day marks the day WWII ended - an event survivors today say they remember clearly.
One of the only events in the country to mark the day Japan surrendered in 1945 is in Broken Arrow. Frank Riesenger, a WWII veteran who was in Tulsa when word came down the wire, makes sure the tradition lives on.
"We went to war, and we saved the world," Riesenger said. "It was the biggest impromptu celebration the city of Tulsa has ever known."
74 years ago on August 14, Riesenger saw it snow in the middle of a Tulsa summer.
"We looked outside, and people started shouting, cars started driving up and down Main and Boston blowing their horns," Riesenger remembers, "and the ticker tape and trash paper started coming down like snow... I've never seen anything like that before or since."
August 14 would come to be known as V-J day, and continues to be one of the most important days of the year for WWII veterans.
"I spent 70-some-ought years trying to forget every bit of this," said veteran Bill Parker, who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day. "I want them to know we don't want this to ever happen again."
Many who fought have never forgotten that feeling of relief and happiness they had 74 years ago. Because of it, Riesenger began organizing a celebration to mark the pivotal moment in American history.
"When you get to this age, you don't really look forward to too much, you've done everything," Riesenger said. "This is what's neat to me. I have this to look forward to."
On the 70th anniversary of V-J day, Riesenger helped put together one of the only commemorative ceremonies in the country. Now, four years later, he says this could very well be the last.
"There's not gonna be any more of us around to celebrate in a year or two or three, and it's already difficult to get WWII veterans out to celebrate with us," Riesenger said.
But he still has hope to pass on the torch - gathering in Broken Arrow to teach younger generations what August 14 means to veterans.
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