74th anniversary of VE Day brings World War II veterans to Washington

Julia LeDoux
May 08, 2019 - 3:39 pm
James Riffe

Julia LeDoux

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World War II veteran and retired Army Col. James Riffe was treated like a rock star Wednesday during a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of VE Day, the ending of the war in Europe.

A large group of teens gathered around Riffe to ask him about his service and to have their pictures taken with him at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C..

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“Young people that age know very little about World War II,” he said.

Riffe served with the Army’s 27th Infantry Division during the war, leading a platoon in the invasion of Okinawa in 1945. He spent 30 years in the Army, concluding his service as chief of staff of the 82nd Airborne Division.

“The war involved all Americans,” he said.  “Think about the millions on the home front. We couldn’t have won the war without the home front.”

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Jeffrey Reinhold, acting superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, praised Riffe and all his fellow World War II veterans.

VE ceremony
Julia LeDoux

“It was through their bravery and dedication to cause that America and our allies found the will to defeat the forces of fascism,” he said.

Riffe and 11 other members of The Greatest Generation laid wreaths at the memorial in honor of their fallen comrades.

“This world, can you even imagine what it would be like without them,” Catherine Johnson of Evansville, Ind. who watched the ceremony, said.

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