What We Can Learn from the Mother's Day after VE Day | Opinion

The best Mother's Day gift in 1945 was the end of World War II in Europe, which happened just a few days prior. For the Netherlands, the precious gift of food from the Allies saved many mothers and children from starvation.

Under Nazi occupation, famine took hold of the Netherlands during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45. Toward the end of the war, the Allies began to air drop food into stricken areas. The U.K. Royal Air Force would start the first in a series of many air drops of food into Nazi occupied Netherlands.

The U.S. Air Force joined a few days later dropping even more life-saving food into the Netherlands. Lt. Alfred E. Isaac told The Cincinnati Post it was the greatest mission he had ever flown.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower had built up massive stocks of food in the liberated section of the Netherlands. By Mother's Day, massive food distributions were well underway by truck convoys. My father was part of the U.S. force in the Netherlands at the end of the war.

The U.S. Air Force dropping food into the famine ravaged Netherlands in May 1945. National Archives

In 1945, Mother's Day in the Netherlands was a time of food and freedom for the war-torn country. On this Mother's Day, there are many nations desperate for such relief too.

Mothers are watching their children slowly starve to death in Yemen, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Burkina Faso. These and other nations are on the brink of famine because of conflict.

The U.N. World Food Program and other relief agencies are trying to provide aid. Often they face funding shortfalls as the world is not as focused on these hunger emergencies. How often do you see stories of the impending famine in these countries on the news?

We have a lot going on at home, especially with the spread of COVID-19, but we should not let that stop us. We were fighting a two-front war in 1945, yet the Allies were able to prepare and provide relief to the Netherlands and other countries too.

First was the air drops by the Royal Air Force and U.S. Air Force to bring food to the starving Dutch. General Eisenhower's decision to stockpile food in the liberated part of the Netherlands made moving large quantities of food by truck manageable. Canadian forces played a big role in moving food by land.

By Mother's Day, food distributions by truck were reaching the Netherlands. National Archives

Today, we need relief operations fully stocked. Tragically, the World Food Program has been forced to cut rations in Yemen where children are starving to death. We cannot have shortages in funding when so much is at stake.

When children suffer malnutrition in war zones they are at risk of lasting physical and mental damage, or death. Food aid must be timely.

There must also be a longer-term approach to preventing malnutrition. Congress should do two things in the next budget to address child hunger worldwide. First, they should increase funds for infant feeding in impoverished countries. The World Food Program, Save the Children, CARE and other charities should receive funding to provide for infant feeding where needed.

Second, Congress should also increase funding for the McGovern-Dole global school lunch program to at least $300 million a year. This program provides school meals in developing countries and is critical for reducing hunger and improving education. The meals also help the next generation of mothers grow up healthy.

The gift millions of mothers need around the world is food for their child. Too many mothers are watching their children starve to death. We have the power to stop this injustice, if we have the will.

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the U.N. World Food Program on the book Ending World Hunger. His writings have been published by The Washington Post, History News Network, Newsweek and many other outlets.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.