End of World War II marked at Tennessee’s Bicentennial Mall State Park

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A ceremony at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville on Friday marked the end of a conflict that still shapes our world.

A wreath marking Japan’s surrender 75-years ago in 1945 was laid by the mall’s giant floating granite globe that shows World War II’s major battles.

On any day, you’ll find people at the mall’s World War II memorial remembering loved ones or learning about the conflict, but the day was clearly recalled by some of those at the event.

“I was three and half years old when the war ended, and I remember very distinctly everybody celebrating, everybody dancing,” retired state archaeologist Nick Fielder told WKRN-TV.

That joy came after nearly six years of a devastating war that began in Europe and ended with Japan’s surrender. The soldiers who fought on the winning side later became known as “The Greatest Generation.”

“I think these events right here are very important. It’s very important for our youth to see the recognition of this Greatest Generation,” said Maj. General Jeff Holmes of the Tennessee National Guard.

Clayton Walden echoed those words as he came to the event with a jacket signifying his own service in Vietnam and the Gulf War, but this day was about his dad who was in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

“I hope we can educate the younger generations what our fathers and forefathers went through,” said the veteran son of the World War II veteran.

COVID-19 kept away soldiers still alive, but remembering the Tennesseans who died will never be forgotten at the mall’s World War II memorial.

Eight granite stone monoliths highlight the conflict with pictures and words.

“Each one of these stones represents ten thousand stories and ten thousand experiences across this state and across this country,” said Bicentennial Mall State Park ranger Josh Waggener.

More than five thousand mostly young Tennesseans died in faraway places like Normandy, France, or somewhere in the Pacific before two atom-bombs forced Japan to surrender exactly 75 years ago Friday.

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