A version of this story appears in the June 2020 issue of National Geographic magazine.
The planet’s deadliest conflict officially came to a close 75 years ago, on September 2, 1945, when Japan formally surrendered during a solemn ceremony in Tokyo Bay aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. Germany had signed an unconditional surrender document on May 7 of that year. Here are five ways to commemorate the end of World War II—while at home and on future travels.
The nonprofit Collings Foundation maintains a fleet of historic aircraft, such as the WWII-era Lockheed P-38 Lightning (shown above), that tours museums and air shows around the United States. For more than 30 years, its Wings of Freedom Tour has touched down at various airports to honor veterans and exhibit restored fliers. During these events, history buffs can even take the controls—along with an instructor—and soar into the skies aboard a P-51 Mustang fighter plane.
Hundreds of bunkers, tunnels, and other eerie remnants of Hitler’s defensive Atlantic Wall dot the Channel Islands, an archipelago in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, France. On Alderney, visitors can see the observation tower called the Odeon and hike the Bibette Head Trail to explore some of the best-preserved German strongholds. A memorial pays tribute to the slave laborers, from places such as Poland, Russia, and Spain, who helped build the fortifications and died on the island.
At Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, learn about the...