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Friday, September 2, 2016

It's V-J Day, the anniversary of the date of Japan's surrender in 1945 and the end of WWII

And so on V-J Day (wiki) we take renewed faith and pride in our way of life. We have had our day of rejoicing over the victory. We have had our day of prayer and devotion. Now let us set aside V-J Day as one of renewed consecration to the principles that have made us the strongest nation on earth and which, in this war, we have striven to preserve.

Harry S Truman (wiki) (1884-1972) (proclaiming V-J Day, 2 September 1945*)

A cautionary note....

The day for which the people of the world have prayed has come at last. There is great thankfulness in our hearts. Peace has not come, however, by the kind of power which we have known in the past, but as the result of a new discovery which as yet is not fully understood, nor even developed. There is a certain awe and fear coupled with our rejoicing today, because we know that there are new forces in the world, partly understood but not as yet completely developed and controlled. 

~ Eleanor Roosevelt (wiki) (1884-1952) (V-J Day speech on the Columbia Broadcasting System) 

Today is V-J Day (wiki), the anniversary of the date in 1945 of the formal Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. For practical purposes, it ended on August 14, when President Truman announced the capitulation of Japan and the end of World War II in the Pacific, unleashing a paroxysm of jubilation throughout the victorious nations. The war in Europe had ended with the German surrender on 8 May, but Japan fought on in the Pacific and had only lost Okinawa, the last stepping stone toward the homeland, in mid-June, after a fanatical defense that cost enormous U.S. casualties. The invasion of Kyushu planned for October 1945 was expected to incur losses in the millions, and this factor figured significantly in the decision to use atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki (on 6 and 9 August, respectively). 

V-J Day crowd in Times Square
The nuclear threat and the belated entry of the Soviet Union into the war against Japan (on 9 August) tipped the balance between fiercely contending proponents of surrender and those in favor of continuing the war - despite an unsuccessful palace coup by the latter. And thus ended World War II after nearly six years. I'm not sure I agree with it, but an old Arab proverb holds that "On the day of victory, no one is tired."

VJ Day In New York:

Here's a Treasury Department documentary (newsreel) on the end of World War II, including Truman's speech:

V-J Day's most iconic photograph, taken in Times Square:

For a comprehensive account of the genesis of this famous photograph and the identification of the participants, see The Kissing Sailor: the Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II, by Lawrence Verria and Ed's friend and former colleague, George Galdorisi. The sailor and nurse were reunited in 2012:
"It was the moment. You come back from the Pacific, and finally, the war ends," reflects 89-year-old George Mendonsa, who says he's the sailor in the photograph that would come to symbolize the end of the war. The sailor, in uniform, is seen with Greta Friedman, a nurse, in her white uniform.

As the perfect strangers embraced and kissed, world famous photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped four pictures, taking only ten seconds to do so.

"The excitement of the war being over, plus I had a few drinks," George explains. " ... So when I saw the nurse, I grabbed her, and I kissed her."

They went their separate ways, not formally meeting again until 1980, when Life magazine asked the previously unknown pair to step forward.
Read the whole story of the reunion.

Based on Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his distribution list, leave your email address in the comments. Ed has personal recollections of that day:
I recall distinctly - as a child of five - awaiting Truman's announcement in the early evening of 14 August 1945 and later being driven around our hometown of Kearny, New Jersey with my cousins in Uncle Charlie's car, blowing the horn, shouting, and waving American flags out the window. My only earlier memories are of the night-time air-raid practices during the war. (My father was a warden and had a part-time job guarding a war- matériel railroad yard on the edge of the Jersey Meadows, west of Manhattan. My late wife's father, "Iron Mike" Gaffney, an expert on loading cargo into merchant ships, was commissioned a temporary colonel and spent the war supervising the handling of military cargo at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Before the war, he had been a high-level American agent for a Japanese shipping company, but that job went away in a hurry after Pearl Harbor.

1 comment:

  1. VJ Day is August 14. September 2 is the day the Japanese signed the surrender documents in Tokyo Bay on the USS Missouri.