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Victory Day in the United States

Victory Day, also known as VJ Day, marks the anniversary the Allies’ victory over Japan during World War II. It followed the dropping of the devastating atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Victory Day is a state holiday in Rhode Island in the United States on the second Monday of August each year.

Is Victory Day a Public Holiday?

Victory Day is a public holiday in Rhode Island, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Victoria Day

Victory Day marks the anniversary the Allies’ victory during World War II.

©iStockphoto.com/simon askham

What Do People Do?

There have been many arguments and debates concerning the nature and name of this holiday. Veteran groups and their supporters observe Victory Day on the second Monday of August each year. Events may include a commemorative ceremony for veterans. Many people believe that there is a need for such a day to remember the sacrifices that veterans made during World War II, including those who were taken as prisoners of war, were tortured, injured or killed.

However critics claim that the day itself is discriminatory due to its reference to Japan in light of modern times. There have been many attempts to change the holiday’s name but so far it remains to be known as Victory Day. Nonetheless there are people who hope to one day celebrate the holiday under a new name or educate young Americans more about the Japanese culture in modern society.

Rhode Island celebrates Victory Day as a state holiday but many communities within the US hold special events to honor the day.

Public Life

State and municipal offices are closed in Rhode Island on Victory Day. Most banks are closed (although not all) but federal offices are open as are many stores, including retail stores, liquor stores and supermarkets. Mail delivery is on a regular schedule. Some bus services may not operate to their usual schedules during state holidays so those planning to use public transit services may need to check with the appropriate transport authorities prior to travel.

Background

Victory Day, or VJ Day, commemorates the anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allies in 1945, ending World War II. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, and the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria in the previous week made the surrender inevitable.  President Harry S Truman’s announcement of the surrender set off street celebrations from coast to coast in the United States. The official end of the war did not occur until September 2, 1945, when General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender from General Yoshijiro Umezu aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

President Truman declared September 2 as the official VJ Day in 1945. In the newspapers across world that day, there were hundreds of photos of soldiers and civilians rejoicing together. VJ Day is a legal state holiday only in the state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island has celebrated this day since 1948.

One of the most famous photographs in the 20th century symbolizes the joyous atmosphere of street celebrations throughout the United States when President Truman announced Japan’s surrender in 1945.  The candid photo was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in LIFE magazine. It features a sailor presumably returning home from the war and kissing a woman at Times Square in New York on August 14, 1945. Since then, about 11 men and three women have all claimed to be one of the two people in that photo.

Victory Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonAug 9Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2011MonAug 8Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2012MonAug 13Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2013MonAug 12Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2014MonAug 11Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2015MonAug 10Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2016MonAug 8Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2017MonAug 14Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2018MonAug 13Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2019MonAug 12Victory DayState holidayRhode Island
2020MonAug 10Victory DayState holidayRhode Island

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