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August 14, 2013

V-J Day emotions captured in note 68 years ago

Teenager wrote down her feelings during war

As a teenager, Marilyn Van Zant was -- like all Americans in the 1940s -- affected by World War II.

Her family, living in a rural home southeast of Anderson, had experienced rationing. Her father had also worked on war projects at the Delco plant, though he couldn’t talk about the secret work with family or friends.

But when Japanese forces agreed to an unconditional surrender to the Allies in August 1945, the 15-year-old Marilyn was ecstatic.

The surender — announced in America on Aug. 14 — ended combat in World War II. It came a few months after the April 12 death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and on the same day that French Marshal Philippe Petain was found guilty of treason for collaborating with the Germans.

On that day, Marilyn wrote a five-page note detailing her feelings. She put it in desk drawer in her bedroom.

Marilyn came across her letter recently. At 83, she has returned to live again in her parent’s home. Over the years, she married and was widowed three times. She had four children with her first husband, Edwin Sanders, and later married Don Adams and Eugene Martin

A graduate of Anderson High School and Ball State University, she became a teacher. She has 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Sitting in her cozy family home, she recently looked at the faded lined pieces of paper where she had written down her thoughts in cursive.

“It was like I was reading something by another person when I discovered it, but it was my 15-year-old self,” she said.

“I wasn’t in school that day because it was summer. I didn’t write this for an assignment. But the emotion of the day, I just had to write it down.”

Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, but Americans heard the news on Aug. 14, due to the time difference. The following is the full text of her account of the day.

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