Although World War II ended 76 years ago, not every country commemorates VJ Day RI on the same day. Japan’s formal surrender to the United States marks September 2, 1945. Documents were signed officially by ending years of bloody fighting in Tokyo Bay. However, some countries celebrate the end of the war on August 15 as Victory over Japan Day in WW2, the day Japan’s emperor delivered a speech announcing the surrender.
Victory over Japan day on Rhode Island
August 15 marks the 76th anniversary of Victory Day in Rhode Island, continuing the state’s tradition of being the only one to observe a legal holiday to commemorate the end of World War II. Although the actual event it commemorates occurred on August 15 when Japan’s surrender was announced here, the holiday is now observed on the second Monday in August.
The General Assembly passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Richard Windsor, a long-serving East Providence Republican, to designate August 14 as a state holiday (VJ Day RI) in March 1948, nearly three years after World War II ended. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the legislature amended the law to make the holiday fall on the second Monday of August.
Japan’s Surrender Was Announced on August 14, 1945.
- A. True
- B. False
The veterans’ organization had been pushing the idea since 1946, a year after the war ended, and Windsor’s bill was quickly passed by the House on March 6, 1947, with bipartisan support. Not everyone was pleased: the editorial board of the Providence Journal argued that Rhode Island lawmakers should cancel an existing holiday rather than add a ninth in the form of Victory Day.
According to Dr. Patrick Conley, approximately 92,000 Rhode Islanders served in the war, more than one out of every ten residents, and nearly 2,200 of them were killed. During World War II, the Navy had a large presence in Rhode Island, and three future presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and George H.W. Bush all received some of their training there.
One thing has changed about Victory Day: the conflict it commemorates is no longer fresh in the minds of the majority of Rhode Islanders, as the ranks of those who fought in it continue to dwindle. The surrender of Japan is now more than 70 years ago, almost as far away from today as the Civil War was from Pearl Harbor.