Commemorating the End of World War II: VJ Day 2024
VJ Day, also known as Victory over Japan Day or V-J Day, takes place each year on September 2 in the United States. VJ Day is a significant historical milestone that marks the end of hostilities in the Pacific Theater, signifying the conclusion of the entire World War II conflict. In the US, VJ Day is a flag-flying holiday, celebrating peace and honoring the service of American troops during the conflict.
When Was VJ Day?
Although VJ Day is celebrated on September 2 in the US, August 14, 1945, also holds great significance for this holiday. This was when the initial announcement was made that the Japanese Empire was surrendering, marking the beginning of the end of World War II and the war in the Pacific Theater.
In the United Kingdom, VJ Day is celebrated on August 15, the day on which, in 1945, the announcement of surrender was locally broadcast. In the United States, we commemorate VJ Day on September 2, when representatives of the Japanese Empire and the Allies signed the formal surrender documents.
What is VJ Day?
To fully understand the context behind VJ Day, it is essential to recall the broader history of World War II. It is generally accepted that the war began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The United States would not enter the war until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese Empire, fighting on the same side as Germany, attacked the US naval base of Pearl Harbor.
United States military forces would join the war alongside the Allied Forces against the Axis Powers in Europe and the Pacific, also known as the war on two fronts. Italy was the first primary Axis Power to surrender on September 3, 1943. Nazi Germany then responded by invading Italy and establishing a puppet state. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. This is celebrated as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, a separate celebration marking the end of the war on the Eastern Front.
However, the Japanese Empire refused to follow its allies into surrender and continued to fight. On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese Empire declared its intention to surrender on the next day, August 10.
The Legacy of WWII and the Pacific Theater
Approximately 16 million Americans served in the US Armed Forces during World War II. About 405,000 troops were killed, 671,000 wounded, and 130,000 were taken as prisoners of war, most of whom were returned to the US.
A significant number of US troops served during conflicts in the Pacific Theater, with some 111,000 dead or missing and 253,000 wounded. On VJ Day, we fly our flags as a way of acknowledging and honoring the sacrifices made by American soldiers during the war.
To properly show your respect for the soldiers who served and died during World War II, proudly raise your American flag from sunrise to sunset on September 2.