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VJ Day

Harry S Truman

VJ Day: Harry S Truman was the 33rd American President who served in office from April 12, 1945, the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, to January 20, 1953. One of the most important events during Truman's presidency was the End of WW2 and 'VJ Day' - Victory over Japan Day.

Definition and Summary of the VJ Day
Summary and definition:
VJ Day (Victory over Japan Day) was the name selected by the Allies for the day on which Japan surrendered, effectively ending WW2. The United States announcement of the Japanese surrender was made on the afternoon of August 14, 1945 and sparked joyous street celebrations across America.

The United States had entered WW2 on December 7, 1941 and the nation had been at war for 3 years, 8 months, and 7 days. VJ Day marked the beginning of an exuberant two-day holiday celebrating peace and a return to normality.

The end of WW2 was made official on September 2, 1945 when General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on a signed document from General Yoshijiro Umezu aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. September 2 was therefore designated VJ Day (Victory over Japan Day) in the entire United States. VJ Day is only recognized as an official holiday in the state of Rhode Island, where the holiday's official name is "Victory Day", and it is observed on the second Monday of August. The official V-J Day for the UK is August 15.

When was VE Day and VJ Day? VE Day, 'Victory in Europe', was celebrated on Tuesday 8 May 1945 and marked the beginning of the end of the WW2. Nazi Germany was defeated, having surrendering unconditionally to Allies. VJ Day, 'Victory over Japan', was celebrated on August 14, 1945. The Commemoration of VJ Day is designated September 2.

When did WW2 End? WW2 ended September 2, 1945 with the unconditional surrender of all the Axis powers. The start and end dates of WW2 in Europe were September 1, 1939 - September 2, 1945. The start and end dates of WW2 in the United States were December 7, 1941 - September 2, 1945.

How was VJ Day celebrated? VJ Day was celebrated in the United States with impromptu celebrations across the entire nation. In an atmosphere of jubilant exuberance there were parties, fireworks, flag waving, banners, ticker tape and confetti, impromptu parades down Main Street, marching bands, singing, dancing, laughing, hugging and kissing in the street.

Facts about VJ Day
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on VJ Day.

More than 400,000 Americans, and an estimated 60 million people worldwide, had died during the conflict of WW2 (September 1, 1939 - September 2, 1945)

The United States entered WW2 on December 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Americans fought the war for three years, eight months, and seven days until the war at last came to an end on VJ Day and the American soldiers were at last able to return home.

During WW2 the families of the US servicemen displayed service flags or banners in their windows. The service flags were a white field with a red border and a blue star for each family member serving in the war. A gold star with a blue edge represented a family member that had died during service. Yellow ribbons were also displayed with the slogan "Support our troops - bring them home alive".

The nation had suffered fear, family losses and rationing during the war. VJ Day brought immense relief to the nation and the people at last had something to celebrate. But the surrender of the Japanese had come at a terrible price - atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japan’s fierce resistance increased as they organized Kamikaze suicide attack units and 'Banzai Charges' inflicting heavy losses on the US forces. The strategy of the suicide attacks was founded on the principles of honor and loyalty based on dying rather than surrendering. The Kamikaze suicide attacks caused more Allied naval casualties during WW2 than any other Japanese weapon.

The Potsdam Declaration was issued and President Truman told Japan, "Surrender or suffer prompt and utter destruction." The Japanese did not reply. Japan had never surrendered to a foreign power and no Japanese military unit had surrendered during WW2.

President Truman had been warned by his military advisors that there would be massive casualties if the United States invaded Japan and he made the decision to use the Atomic bomb which had been developed by scientists working on the Manhattan Project.

The atomic bomb "Little Boy" was dropped by the Enola Gay bomber on the people of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945 and 75,000 were killed immediately. Two days later, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. The Japanese still refused to surrender. A second atomic bomb, "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki three days later on August 9, 1945.

The Japanese government accepted the unconditional surrender terms on August 14, 1945 and marked Victory over Japan

President Harry Truman scheduled a national radio broadcast for 7:00pm on August 14th, 1945 but VJ Day celebrations around the nation, and across the world, had already taken place.

A two-day holiday began on VJ Day as a coast-to-coast frenzy of kissing, singing and dancing celebrated the end of WW2.

V-J Day Euphoria hit the nation with parties, dancing, singing, drinking, flag waving, fireworks and impromptu parades down the Main Street of towns across the United States

The largest crowd in the history of Times Square, New York City gathered to celebrate as the 'zipper' news ticker pronounced "*** OFFICIAL TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER ***" Crowds of two million New Yorkers cheered and ticker tape and paper fell onto the streets of New York from the windows of office buildings.

In Washington, D.C. a jubilant crowd surrounded the White House grounds as they shouted "We want Harry!"

Servicemen in uniform ran around kissing women. In Times Square photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the famous photograph of the sailor kissing a nurse on VJ Day. The photo was published in Life magazine a week after VJ Day with the headline "Kissing the War Goodbye". The Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph captured the energy, spontaneity and exuberance of VJ Day and the notion of 'Unconditional Surrender'.

People streamed out of workplaces and kids ran out of schools to join the parties and celebrations. Others celebrated by attending special religious services giving thanks for the end of WW2. Families started to make preparations for the homecoming of their loved ones.

The celebrations and revelry continued and received another boost when the official end of WW2 came on September 2, 1945 when General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender from General Yoshijiro Umezu in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri.

President Harry Truman declared September 2 as official VJ Day. V-J Day, or Victory Day, was a federal holiday in the United States from 1948 until 1975. VJ Day was scrapped as politicians and officials believed that celebrating Victory Day was harming trade between the US and Japan, and some called the holiday “embarrassing.”

The U.S. state of Arkansas was the last state (other than Rhode Island) to drop the holiday in 1975. V-J Day is now only a legal holiday in the state of Rhode Island, where it is called Victory Day. 

Rhode Island retains the holiday in tribute to the disproportionate number of sailors it sent and lost in the war in the Pacific. More than 100,000 of Rhode Island’s residents served in the war in the Pacific, and 10,000 were killed, injured or lost.

US American History
1929-1945: Depression & WW2

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