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V-J DAY FETE REFLECTS ITS 1945 COUNTERPART

A swing band played, veterans danced and sailors reminisced. V-J Day 1995 in Times Square was a colorful mirror of the original 50 years ago.

"This is fantastic. I love it. I just did a jitterbug," Navy veteran Leslie Fischer said Sunday.Fischer hummed along as the 14-piece Stan Rubin Orchestra backed up Margaret Whiting singing "That Old Black Magic."

Navy veteran Herbert Brown of Aventura, Fla., was aboard the USS Missouri 50 years ago when the treaty ending the war was signed. He came to Times Square on his way home from a Rhode Island vacation.

"When we went through the Golden Gate Bridge in 1943 or 1944 it was like you were never coming back," Brown said.

"When they signed the peace treaty, they played `East Side, West Side' and there was happiness, happiness that we knew we were going home," he said.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a host of the V-J Day bash, recalled that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared a two-day city holiday to celebrate the war's end in 1945.

"In spirit all Americans, all New Yorkers were in Times Square that day," Giuliani told more than 10,000 people.

Actress Celeste Holm, the emcee, said she and other Broadway performers had rolled bandages in nearby theaters and entertained troops at the Stage Door Canteen just off Times Square.

"We sang for them and tried to make them feel comfortable in this dirty, frightening city," she said. "They liked best that we sang the songs they heard on the radios at home."

Comedian Henny Youngman recycled jokes from the original V-J Day.

"Milton Berle was supposed to be here today, but he had an operation. He had a charisma bypass."