The mass media we have today gave almost no mention to Thursday, Aug. 15, as a significant date in American history. It was Aug. 15, 1945, that the Japanese emperor Hirohito issued a proclamation surrendering to Allied Forces. That ended World War II.
The formal signing of the unconditional surrender documents occurred Sept. 2, on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo harbor. President Harry Truman announced at 7 p.m. Aug. 14, 1945, that Japan had surrendered. Celebrations across the country lasted all night in many places. An estimated two million people jammed Times Square in New York in the biggest and wildest celebration.
When the Japanese surrendered in a war that began Dec. 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it brought a huge sigh of relief to American troops who were poised to invade Japan, which they knew would be bloody warfare.
Some members of our armed forces had already fought in Europe and believed that they couldn’t survive another invasion and occupation. Dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki early in August convinced Japan the war was lost.
Since the end of the war with Japan was announced Aug. 14, 1945, it became known as VJ Day — victory over Japan. But the official proclamation by the Japanese came on Aug. 15 and that also is known as VJ Day to some people.
The number of veterans who fought in World War II who are still with us is smaller with each passing day. We honor and pay tribute to their contributions by remembering and observing important dates in that greatest of all wars in the history of the world.