By Debbie Hall
The 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day was commemorated in Martinsville Friday with a ceremony at the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center and Museum in Martinsville.
Richard Globman, who was among the speakers at the ceremony, said that while the day provides an occasion to celebrate the end of the war in Europe, it also “is another reminder of the most horrific event and a chance to remind the world this will never happen again.”
During his beginning remarks, Globman listed many of the concentration camps, including the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. Those and other Nazi concentration camps were “where thousands of Jews lost their lives.”
Dachau Concentration Camp opened in 1933, he said, and noted that upon achieving power that year, Adolph “Hitler and the Nazi state began to implement increasingly severe measures that were aimed at actually removing the Jewish people from Germany and eventually from all of Europe.”
To that end, the government there “instituted the systematic extermination of the Jewish people. Since 1945, the word ‘Holocaust’ has taken on a new and horrible meaning. The ideological and state sponsored prosecution and mass murder of millions of European Jews and others, including gypsies, the intellectually disabled, homosexuals and others,” between 1933 and 1945, Globman said.
The Nazis considered Jews an inferior race, an alien threat to German purity, and after years of Nazi rule, Hitler’s final solution came to fruition under the cover of World War II, with mass killing centers constructed in the concentration camps,” Globman said.
He added that approximately 6 million Jews and 5 million others died in the holocaust because they were “targeted for racial, political, ideological and political reasons. More than 1 million of these were children. As Jews, and as citizens of the world, it is our responsibility to make sure these horrid events never happen again.”
Del. Les Adams, R-Chatham, who represents the 16th District, said “it is always important to remember and look back. The victory in Europe should serve as an inspiration to us today.”
W.C. Fowlkes said he felt “proud to be an American” on the day which marked the end of the war in Germany.
It was not the end of the complete war, “but it was a massive step” towards its conclusion, Fowlkes said, adding that in Martinsville and Henry County, “people were keeping up with what was going on in the war. President Truman on the 8th issued a proclamation ending the war. The factories here were all closed, but the retail establishments were open with a very joyous feeling in the community.”
He added the following Sunday was set aside locally to celebrate ending of war, something that Fowlkes said he is glad continues, because he is “truly thankful for what our soldiers did and” the opportunity to remember their sacrifices.
Michael Harrison, lead pastor of The Community Fellowship, also participated in the ceremony.
“We thank you for the victory you have given our land many, many times,” Harrison said when giving the invocation. “We thank you for what VE Day is about and for a nation that continues to understand that freedom is important.”
Andy Burnette and Erica Nelson performed at the event that was organized by Martinsville City Council member Danny Turner.