New Year’s Eve 1945 was a night of wild celebration for much of the world. For many, people celebrated with abandon, while champagne flowed in quantities not seen in many years. Streets were brightly lit and filled with people who, as the hour struck midnight, cheered the new year in in a fashion that had not been seen in many years.
For those in other parts of the world, in places like Germany and Japan, celebrations were a little more somber. While a sense of hope prevailed, many of those who awoke on that peacetime New Year’s Day did so in poverty, in hunger and cold, and with a sense of uncertainty as how they were to rebuild their lives in their war-ravaged homelands.
World leaders across the globe offered words of encouragement. Pope Pius XII expressed his optimism for the future and gratitude that conflict was at an end. President De Gaulle of France encouraged his people to look forward to the new year with “ardor and with courage.” He added, “We know that many obstacles remain to be surmounted but we know also that everywhere we are making progress.”
In Japan, the emperor spoke to his people, offering a humbled confession that perhaps, after all, Japan was not meant to rule the world, and, furthermore, that he was not Divine as perhaps his people had been led to believe.
For many, though the war had ended, peace seemed somewhat illusive.
“We shall only win the peace as we have won the war,” Winston Churchill counselled, “by character and hard work.”
Wartime has a different face than it did nearly three quarters of a century ago, and yet the quest for peace prevails. Locally, New Year’s celebrations were relatively quiet, held in the homes of friends and neighbors whose open hearts and open doors remind us of the love and friendship we all wish to share and receive, whatever the time of year. Time and circumstance teach us that peace is something that comes from within, rather than something we wait for our world leaders to provide. Peace is an effort of individuals. It is found in the smiles we share, and in the kind words we offer to those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis. It is a moment by moment awareness of the good things (and people) that bless our lives.
For many, the last few years have been ones of transformation, of falling apart and rebuilding. That pattern is one that can be seen in our beloved Old West End, as well. Our treasured homes are no longer being threatened by demolition to the same degree they once were, and we have been blessed to welcome in many new neighbors – and will continue to do so. 2019 looks to be a promising year of opportunity and new beginnings.
From the Friends of the Old West End to you, may your 2019 be prosperous and peaceful! Thank you for all you do to support us in our efforts to preserve our historic neighborhood.