The end of the second World War in Europe will be commemorated with a USO-inspired show and a history fair at Niagara County Community College on May 8, the 70th anniversary of V-E Day.
"So many faculty and students at the college have parents or grandparents who were part of the Greatest Generation," history professor Donald Fisher said. "Many us felt it was important to show the remaining members of that generation our collective gratitude for their sacrifices on this very special anniversary."
The V-E Day event caps off a semester-long campus observation of the war's anniversary that also included a photo display of World War II veterans, a film series, a spring musical and a history conference.
In addition to veterans of all conflicts, families of men and women who served in the armed forces during World War II are especially invited to attend.
"It's been very rewarding seeing people from all across campus pitch in to help organize the events, from faculty and staff donating photos for our wall of honor to the building and grounds people making sure our conference was set up smoothly," history professor Matthew Clarcq said. "Everyone has recognized how important this commemoration has been."
The event begins with a Chiavetta's chicken barbecue at 5 p.m. in NCCC's Small Gym in H Building (Athletics Building). A portion of sales will go toward Honor Flight Buffalo, which has scheduled a trip for World War II veterans to visit the national World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 30, and WNY Heroes Inc., which assists local veterans of all wars. The fundraiser will also feature gift baskets, a flag sale and tickets for a 50/50 drawing.
A World War II-themed history fair will commence at 5:30 p.m. in the lobbies of F (Arts & Media) and H (Athletics) buildings. The event will feature activities and exhibits by area historical societies, veterans groups and civic clubs. Among the numerous organizations attending are Dog Company 1st I.D. WWII Re-enactors, Old Fort Niagara, the Historical Society of the Tonawandas, Niagara Hospice, Hogs and Heroes Foundation, Swing Buffalo and the National Guard.
Children's activities include carnival games, face painting and book readings.
Guests will see characters such as Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosie the Riveter and the Three Stooges mingling throughout the fair.
In addition to swing dance lessons, visitors are invited to a presentation by Porter Historian Suzanne Simon Dietz, the biographer of Theodore Van Kirk, who was the navigator on the Enola Gay B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Van Kirk was the last member of the crew, passing away last year at age 93.
The Barker Community Band will play patriotic music from 6 to 7 p.m.
The USO Show starts in the Arts & Media Theater at 8 p.m. and stars Quizmaster Dennis George, who will entertain guests with a series of game show segments featuring trivia questions on the 1940s. George has been entertaining Western New Yorkers for many years at school functions, corporate events, conventions, birthday and retirement parties. Contestants will be drawn from the audience. The show will also feature the talents of the college's theater department.
"We're going to have costumed students perform Abbott and Costello's 'Who's on First?' routine and an Andrews Sisters song," said theater professor and show director Kyle LoConti.
Economics professor Paul Ratka is one of the fair's organizers and was drawn to the commemoration for personal reasons.
"I got involved in this project because I wanted to say thank you to this generation for their service and sacrifice for the country," Ratka said. "My grandfather served in the Navy during the war and lost his oldest brother shortly before the war's end. Throughout the semester, I have had Winston Churchill's quote, 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few,' hung on my office wall. To me, this quote embodies the reasons why I volunteered and though my grandfather isn't here anymore, I know he would have been proud of the project."
The fair is free and open to the public, while tickets for the USO Show are $10 at the door. Tickets may be bought online at www.niagaracc.suny.edu/usotickets/.
NCCC is located at 3111 Saunders Settlement Road in Sanborn.