Alle-Kiski Valley natives stunned to see Valley Daily News in French museum
It was the last thing Jim West and his wife, Kathy, expected to see when they stopped at the Museum of the Surrender while on vacation in Reims, France.
Upon entering the museum, the first exhibit they saw included a framed front page of an Extra Edition of the May 7, 1945 Valley Daily News, forerunner of The Valley News Dispatch.
The bold headline read: “War in Europe Over! Nazis Surrender!”
“We were standing there right where you go in the door to buy tickets, and it was almost the first thing you see,” Jim West said. “And I saw that it said Valley Daily News at the top and it was just so surprising. Something we never expected.”
West is a Tarentum native and his wife is from Harrison.
He said the framed article was on display along with the front pages of other American newspapers from the day the war in Europe ended in 1945. The Museum of the Surrender is at the site in Reims where the Germans initially surrendered to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe.
“I went to the people at the museum and asked, ‘Why is this here from Tarentum, Pennsylvania?’ And nobody knew. And the only conclusion I could reach is that they thought that the way it was presented by the Valley Daily News is that it was interesting and they wanted to display it.”
On the phone from France, museum manager Marie Lefevre said Friday, “I frankly do not know how or where the last curator bought it. But it is an original.”
Just below the fold on the front page, the Valley Daily News put the story of the reaction in Tarentum and Natrona to the Armistice being signed that ended World War I, as a way of comparing the reaction to the end of both world wars.
West, a retired U.S. Attorney living in Harrisburg, said seeing the article gave him a feeling of pride.
“It was clear that it had been there for a very long time,” West said. “The impression I had was that it had been there since the museum opened up.”
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].