Answer Man: When should we commemorate V-J Day?

August 7, 2018

Dear Answer Man: When is V-J Day? We’d like to honor my grandpa, who fought in the Pacific during World War II, but we’re having a hard time figuring out exactly which day is Victory over Japan Day. — Concerned Citizen

Well, Mr. or Mrs. Concerned Citizen, there are several answers to that question, so it’s a good thing you came to the Man with all the Answers.

V-J Day, of course, designates the day World War II in the Pacific ended. Depending on which side of the international dateline you were on at the time, V-J Day was originally either Aug. 14 or Aug. 15, 1945. Japan announced its surrender on Aug. 15, which in the United States was still Aug. 14. The archives here at Answer Man World HQ indicate that President Harry Truman received the Japanese communique at 8:18 p.m Aug. 14.

Euphoric celebrations erupted shortly thereafter, including in Rochester.

“Noise and hilarity held sway in the business district,” the Post-Bulletin reported. For those with more solemn thoughts, local churches opened their doors, and services of thanksgiving were held.

That was on the 14th. The next day, Aug. 15, was declared a municipal holiday by Mayor Paul A. Grassle. Mayo Clinic and restaurants remained open, but most other businesses closed their doors for the day.

Now, here’s where things get complicated: The document of surrender was officially signed on Sept. 2, 1945. From 1948 to 1975, Sept. 2 was regarded as the official V-J Day. Little Rhode Island still recognizes Sept. 2 as “Victory Day.”

For the rest of us, Aug. 14 or Aug. 15 will do just fine for your commemoration.

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