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Americans Celebrated for Two Days After the End of WWII: Watch Now

September 11, 2018 in History

By Allison McNearney

Flashback: America Celebrates the End of WWII (TV-PG; 4:44)

As the summer rolled into August in 1945, the Pacific theater of World War II was still trudging along with slow but deadly steam. Germany had surrendered several months earlier, and the Allies were ready for the devastating conflict to come to an end. But despite the rest of the world turning towards peace, the Japanese forces continued to fight on with no signs of capitulation.

In order to speed the conclusion along, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan—one on Hiroshima on August 6 and another on Nagasaki three days later. It was the first and only time that nuclear weapons had been used in warfare, and the results were devastating. Over 200,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the attacks and the fallout lasted for years. However, the bombing had its intended effect. On August 14, Japan officially surrendered and World War II came to an end.

But that mid-August day when the big announcement was made isn’t the only “Victory Over Japan,” or V-J, Day. The end of World War II is technically celebrated twice. On September 2, representatives from Japan and the United States gathered on the deck of the USS Missouri, which was docked in Tokyo Bay for the formal signing of the papers that would bring the war to an end. “This is a victory of more than arms alone. This is a victory of liberty over tyranny,” President Truman said in his September 2 speech officially proclaiming V-J Day.

Let the Celebrations Begin!

As this video report shows, crowds gathered across the country on August 14, waiting for word that Japan had unconditionally surrendered to end the war. At 7p.m., President Truman gathered advisors and reporters in the White House and “calmly” read a statement declaring the end of the hostilities. When he was done, “his face broke into a smile.”

Crowds in Washington, D.C., gathered to congratulate Truman and parade around town, as they did in most cities throughout the country. But the biggest celebration of all was in New York City. Music and dancing broke out in the streets of Little Italy, “confetti” made of scraps of cloth rained down in the Garment District and in Times Square, two million people packed into 10 blocks to express their jubilation.

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