V-J Day commemorates the anniversary of Japan's surrender to the Allies in 1945, ending World War II. The atomic bombs dropped on HIROSHIMA on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, and the Soviet Union's invasion of Manchuria in the previous week made the surrender inevitable. The announcement of the surrender by President Harry S. Truman set off street celebrations from coast to coast in the United States. In New York City, Times Square was jammed with people embracing and dancing. In Naples, Italy, the Andrews Sisters had just finished singing “Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree” to U.S. troops when Maxine Andrews was given a slip of paper and read the news; joyous bedlam ensued.
The official end of the war didn't come until Sept. 2, when Gen. Douglas MACARTHUR accepted the Japanese surrender from Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. He said, “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended…. The holy mission has been completed.” President Truman declared Sept. 2 as official V-J Day. The day is now celebrated on the 2nd Monday of August.
V-J Day is a legal holiday only in the state of Rhode Island, where it is called Victory Day. In Connecticut, the tiny village of Moosup (a section of the town of Plainfield) claims to have the only V-J Day parade in the country. Sponsored by the local American Legion post, it began small in 1961 and now features more than 200 units—marching bands, floats, civic groups, color guards, and Gold Star Mothers (women who lost a son or daughter in war)—and attracts some 10, 000 spectators.