This is the official 40th V-E Day anniversary. It's also the anniversary of the day the Capitol lights came on again after nearly four years of darkness.
From Pearl Harbor until the German surrender was announced on May 8, 1945, creating the day recognized for Victory in Europe, the magnificent dome of the Capitol in Washington was darkened -- not only symbolically but also to make it less a target if the enemy should make its way into Washington's airspace.
But on May 8, 1945, after the surrender, "a loveliness appeared on the night sky," recounted Scott Hart in his book "Washington at War" (Prentice-Hall, 1970). "The dome of the Capitol gleamed in a bath of light, and the light flowed upward over the gown of the goddess the statue of Armed Freedom, atop the dome . It had been a long time since Pearl Harbor when the light had gone out."
Washingtonians of the era were watching for the dome lighting, and indeed it was perhaps the high spot of a Washington celebration far more subdued than that in other cities, notably New York.
On May 1, a week before V-E, author Hart recalled, Rep. J. Buell Snyder (D-Pa.) told the House that the lights were on again in London and in Russia. He urged that the Capitol be lighted "the moment President Truman announces" V-E Day.
House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Tex.), of fond memory, replied: "If the gentleman will yield, the chair has already ordered that this be done."
A long burst of applause followed. Capitol Architect David Lynn said the chief electrician would turn on the lights the moment Truman made the announcement, if at night, or at dusk if the announcement came in daytime.
At 8:30 p.m. May 8, the lights went on. Let's pray they never again go off.