Victory Day (United States)

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Victory Day
V-J Day Times Square NYWTS.jpg
Crowds celebrating V-J Day in Times Square
Also called Victory Over Japan Day, VJ Day, World War II Memorial Day (Arkansas)[2]
Observed by United States (Rhode Island, U.S. Space & Rocket Center[3])
Type (1) Rhode Island state holiday, state offices closed
(2) Presumed former federal holiday[1] (1948-1975)
(3) Space Center commemoration
Date (1) Second Monday in August (Rhode Island and US Space & Rocket Center)
(2) September 2 (Presumed former federal holiday, 1948-1975[1])
(3) August 14 (Rhode Island, 1948-1966[2])
2017 date August 14  (2017-08-14)
2018 date August 13  (2018-08-13)
2019 date August 12  (2019-08-12)
2020 date August 10  (2020-08-10)
Frequency annual

Victory Day is a holiday observed in the United States state of Rhode Island with state offices closed on the second Monday of August. It is presumed to have been a federal holiday in the United States from 1948 until 1975, though a 1999 United States Senate report did not mention the establishment of the holiday at the federal level.[1] Furthermore, in 2017, WPRI-TV claimed that Arkansas and Rhode Island were the only two states to ever celebrate the holiday, though Arkansas's name for the holiday was "World War II Memorial Day."[2]

Originally, the official name was "Victory over Japan Day" and "V-J Day", as proclaimed by then President Harry S. Truman and was officially observed on September 2 nationwide. At some point, the name was changed to "Victory Day" in light of the modern post-war Japan emerging in economic importance. Further name changes were attempted later, but were unsuccessful, at which point, the name "Victory Day" remained the official name.

The holiday celebrates the conclusion of World War II and is related to Victory over Japan Day in the United Kingdom. Presumably, it was a nationally recognized holiday from 1948 to 1975, but it has since been removed due to its reference to Japan in light of the current and good relations.[1] Rhode Island retains the holiday in tribute to the disproportionate number of sailors it sent and lost in the Pacific front.[4] In 2015, the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama honored 500 veterans on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.[5] Due to the current economic situation, national commemoration of the holiday in states other than Rhode Island will not resume.


Scene made famous by Life magazine photograph

Victory Day has commemorated the anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allies in 1945 which ended 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 led to the eventual surrender. President Truman's announcement of the surrender started mass celebrations across the United States, which was when he declared September 2 as the official "VJ Day" in 1945. In 1975, the holiday was abolished at the Arkansas state level leaving Rhode Island as the only state in the U.S. where the holiday is a legal holiday.[2] Rhode Island has observed this day since 1948. Initially observed on August 14, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted legislation in 1966 to observe the holiday on the second Monday in August annually.[2] As of 2017, official commemoration for the holiday in states other than Rhode Island is not expected to resume.

According to WPRI-TV, the reasons to abolish the holiday at the Arkansas state level include Japan's "increasing economic might".[6] Even Rhode Island had debates over whether to retain the state holiday, with the Rhode Island Japan Society being the force for removal of the holiday.[6] The case was between the Japanese Americans and the U.S. veterans who fought in this particular war.[6]


Citizens and workers of Oak Ridge, Tennessee celebrate V-J Day.

See also[edit]