Treasures Saved From VE-Day

<B>Andy Rooney</B> On Day Germans Surrendered To Americans

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The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.
I don't like being so old that I know a lot about some things that most of you do not know. But I am, and I do.

May 8 is called VE-Day. It stands for Victory in Europe in 1945, the day the Germans surrendered to us in Reims, France.

One of the things I know that most of you do not is that the Germans actually surrendered on May 7, not May 8. Gen. Eisenhower had made a deal with the Russians to keep it secret until the Germans surrendered to them the next day.

Up until the surrender, the town of Reims was best known for its cathedral, one of the great structures ever built on the face of the earth. Its soaring, vaulted arches and stained glass windows are spectacular.

When American tourists go to Reims today there is another attraction, an ordinary school building where the Germans surrendered. I've been back myself.

On the very early morning of May 7, 1945, 13 men gathered for one of the most momentous meetings in the history of the world.

The school building embarrasses the French. They don't like to be reminded that we rescued them from defeat by the Germans. Ten years ago, I stood in front of a inconspicuous plaque they put up; it's the only indication of the great event that took place inside.

In 1945, I was a reporter for the Army newspaper, The Stars and Stripes, when the Germans surrendered. I had gone to Nice on the Riviera that day to write a story about American soldiers on leave there.

The GIs, who just a few days before had been living in muddy foxholes at the front, were in paradise looking at topless French girls on the sand, and sleeping between clean white sheets in some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

This was the ironic headline the editors of The Stars and Stripes put on the story I wrote about our soldiers' reaction to that surrender: "Good! When Do We Leave This Hole and Go Home?"

Some people keep things; other people throw things away. I keep things. This newspaper with my byline is one of the treasures I've kept, because of my memories of yesterday, May 7, 60 years ago.

Written By Andy Rooney