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Victory Day

Victory Day commemorates Japan's surrender to the Allies, which brought about the conclusion of World War II. The United States had called for Japan's surrender at the Potsdam Conference—a meeting which took place between the United States, The Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom in late July and early August of 1945. After Japan did not respond to the request, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, and on Nagasaki on August 9; the Soviet Union also invaded Manchuria on August 9. Japan finally capitulated and accepted the Potsdam Declaration. On August 15 in Japan, which was August 14 in the United States, Japan's Emperor Hirohito gave a radio address urging his citizens to accept the surrender.

That same day, President Truman announced Japan's surrender at a press conference at the White House. Americans celebrated across the country and dubbed the day "Victory over Japan Day" and "V-J Day." It was during this celebration that Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the iconic photograph of a couple kissing in Times Square, which was printed in Life magazine. On September 2, the war officially ended when Japan's General Yoshijiro Umezu and foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu formally surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

V-J Day eventually began being called Victory Day for a few reasons: Japan emerged economically, they became an ally of the United States, and there was continued debate as to if the atomic bomb should have been used. The day is marked by events across the United States, but Rhode Island is the only state where it is a legal holiday, having been so since 1948. There have been debates there as to if the holiday should still be official, and what its name should be.

How to Observe Victory Day

The day could be celebrated by going to a commemorative ceremony for veterans. It would be most fitting to do so in Rhode Island, where Victory Day is an official holiday. Throughout the country, there are other events such as parades that could be attended. Parades have continued to take place in cities such as Seymour, Indiana; Moosup, Connecticut; and Arma, Kansas. The USS Missouri is now located in Pearl Harbor and could be visited. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is another fitting place to visit.

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