World War II began with a surprise attack on Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Then Holland, Denmark, Belgium, France and finally Russia. By 1942, Europe from the Pyrenees to the outskirts of Moscow was veiled in four dark years of ruthless German occupation.
Only England withstood the Nazi onslaught.
The United States declared war on Germany the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Jim Mason sat in the downtown McLean Starbucks and remembered, May 8, 1945, the day the war ended in Europe.
"I remember hearing the president talk on the radio worldwide," he said. "It was very exciting. ... When he said the war was over our family was hooting and hollering ... you got goosebumps.
At the time, Mason was 6 years old and surrounded by his family on their farm outside of Cedar Rapids Iowa.
J.P. Johnson of McLean remembers when President Franklin Roosevelt died, a month earlier on April 12, 1945.
"It was the first time I ever remember crying because somebody died," said Johnson, who was 7 years old and having lunch in his hometown of Muncie, Ind.
On May 8, 1945, Hitler died by suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin as the Russians close in. The Nazi order designed to last a 1,000 years ended in rubble after only 12.
A dictatorship that plunged Europe and North Africa into the inferno of war, murdered millions, enslaved millions finally collapsed in ruin and unconditional surrender.
Victory at Sea: "Statistics are meaningless. The catastrophe incalculable. But freemen have given mankind the opportunity to be free and that is the greatest of legacies."
If you know a World War II veteran, thank him or her today for literally saving the world.
If you remember the end World War II in Europe, please share your memories in comments.