V-J Day, or Victory Over Japan Day, commemorates the Japanese surrender to the Allies on August 15, 1945. However, because of time zone differences, the announcement was made in the United States on August 14, 1945.
On this date, a little after noon (Japan Standard Time), Emperor Hirohito announced in a radio broadcast that Japan had accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Earlier that same day, a cable was sent to President Harry Truman advising the Allies of the surrender and the impending declaration.
Truman’s announcement was made via a nationwide radio broadcast that aired at seven p.m. Eastern Time.
August 15th remains the official V-J Day for the United Kingdom and Japan. However, the Japanese know this day as the “memorial day for the end of the war” (終戦記念日, Shūsen-kinenbi) or "the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace" (戦没者を追悼し平和を祈念する日, Senbotsusha o tsuitōshi heiwa o kinensuru hi). The latter was adopted as the official name by the Japanese in 1982 (Wikipedia).
|Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay
Finally, almost four years after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, World War II had come to an end.
Life magazine reported two weeks later that people celebrated “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.”
The news ticker at Times Square, which found itself host to the largest crowd in its history up that time, read:
OFFICIAL *** TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER ***
“The six asterisks represented the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces” (Van Gelder).
|Kissing the War Goodbye
Today is the 78th anniversary of an event that affected millions of people around the world including many—if not most—of our own parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Yet, it’s a day that now slips by with barely a mention except for two notable exceptions (Wikipedia):
A few towns throughout the U.S. still observe V-J Day, but Moosup, Connecticut “holds the distinction of being the oldest continuous parade celebrating V-J day since the actual surrender of the Japanese in 1945” Their parade is held the second Sunday in August.
Rhode Island observes Victory Day on the second Monday of August though it is not recognized as a state holiday.
Shall we pause a moment to remember a few of those celebrations? Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let pictures tell the rest of the story.
|Civilians and service personnel in London's Picadilly Circus
|Dancing Man in Sydney, Australia
|Allied Military Personnel in Paris
The following photo is particularly meaningful for me. I had the privilege of meeting photographer Ed Westcott’s daughter and her husband when I visited Oak Ridge, the Secret City, while researching my novella “Blue Moon” (Homefront Heroines, Barbour).
|Citizens and workers of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
I'll share these photos with my granddaughters, who share my interest in WWII history, in our own celebration of today's joy. Will you celebrate with us?
Homefront Heroines ~ Four Young Women Dream of Victory and Love During WWII
Johnnie Alexander writes award-winning stories in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Visit her at johnnie-alexander.com.
Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945: Representatives of the Empire of Japan on board USS Missouri (BB-63) during the surrender ceremonies. Standing in front are: Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu (wearing top hat) and General Yoshijirō Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff. Army Signal Corps - Naval Historical Center Photo # USA C-2719. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Permission details: This file is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain in the United States.
Kissing the War Goodbye. Victor Jorgensen - US archives. "New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square." National archive number 80-G-377094 Naval Historical Center #520697. Though the photo is tagged “Public Domain,” another note titled Permission Details says: “This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing.
Civilians and service personnel in London's Picadilly Circus celebrate the news of Allied Victory over Japan in August 1945. Ministry of Information Photo Division. This photograph D 25636 comes from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. The photo is tagged “Public Domain.” Permission Details: This photograph was scanned and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence. The image was catalogued by the IWM as created for the Ministry of Information, which was dissolved in 1946. Consequently the image and faithful reproductions are considered Crown Copyright, now expired as the photograph was taken prior to 1 June 1957.
Dancing Man in Sydney on August 15, 1945. Movietone News - Movietone Special: Peace: Australia Celebrates. Public Domain. File:1945-Dancing-Man.jpg.
Allied military personnel in Paris celebrating V-J Day on August 15, 1945. Unknown, but in Office of the Chief Signal Officer collection - Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives "American servicemen and women gather in front of "Rainbow Corner" Red Cross club in Paris to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Japanese." Permission details: This file is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain in the United States.
Citizens and workers of Oak Ridge, Tennessee celebrate V-J Day on August 14, 1945[a]. Ed Westcott / US Army / Manhattan Engineer District - Ed Westcott / American Museum of Science and Energy. In a photo by Ed Westcott, residents of Oak Ridge, TN, fill Jackson Square to celebrate the surrender of Japan. Oak Ridge was one of the three main sites of the Manhattan Project, and was responsible (though those working there did not know it) for refining uranium to be shipped to Los Alamos to be fashioned into atomic bombs. Permission details: This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.
Sources (accessed August 7, 2023)
Japanese translations found on Wikipedia. The article’s footnote reads: 厚生労働省：全国戦没者追悼式について (in Japanese). Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. 8 August 2007. Archived from the original on 21 March 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2008.
"It's Victory Day, an only-in-Rhode Island institution since 1975". Archived from the original on 14 August 2013.