December 14 is Victory over Japan Day (aka, V-J Day), the day Japan surrendered to U.S. forces thereby ending the war in the Pacific in 1945. Unfortunately, many assume this was the accepted end of the war. Actually, the official surrender ceremony took place on September 2, 1945, when representatives of Japan signed documents with U.S. military forces on the USS Missouri.
V-J Day weekend provided several stories reported across the U.S. that provide a unique perspective on this anniversary.
Accompanying this 70th Anniversary was a nationwide celebration of V-J Day named, “Spirit of ’45 Day”. This special day was created by Congress in 2010 “to preserve and honor the legacy of the men and women of the World War II generation so that their example of national unity.“
In addressing Japan’s actions about the war between Japan and the U.S., the current Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, offered remorse over Japan’s actions during World War II. Perhaps understandably, his speech “fell short of apologizing in his own words to the victims of Japanese aggression.”
From a historical standpoint, a series of 54 photos showing “wild parties thrown by Americans across the globe on VJ Day 1945”. These two pictorial displays were printed by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.
At the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, a “Kiss Off” was held on August 15 where attendees were encouraged to replicate their own version of the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph of a couple kissing at Times Square on V-J Day. A similar one held in Times Square. Participating at this celebration were two Navy veterans, Ray and Ellie Williams, who were married on August 15, 1945, the day after V-J Day.
Another special event was sponsored by the Veterans Land Board of Texas and The National Museum of the Pacific War at their museum in Fredericksburg, Texas. Scheduled events included a flyover and a keynote address by Gen. Mike Hagee (USMC, Ret.), CEO & President of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation. The National Museum of the Pacific War is a Texas Historical Commission property supported, operated, and managed by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation.
One more story will be surprising to many: The Daily Beast just reported that American military archives revealed that the U.S. was prepared to continue bombing Japan with up to twelve more atomic bombs if Japan did not surrender after the first two exploded on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fortunately, they were not needed.
And finally, The El Paso Times reminded us that the numbers of WW II veterans are dwindling. Indeed, according to US Veterans Administration figures, World War II veterans are dying at the rate of 492 a day. Because of this data, everyone should be aware of Honor Flight, a national “non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices.” The organization flies World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, D.C. to “visit and reflect at their memorials”.
The next trip by Honor Flight Austin Texas will be on September 25-26. Scheduled trips from across the country can be found on their national website. And, if you have the time, Honor Flight is always looking for volunteers to accompany veterans on these trips. If you don’t, then they always accept donations.
Please think about it.