Monday, August 14, 2006

Victory Day

Today is Victory Day or V-J Day, the day that Japan officially surrendered to the allies in World War II. The only state that still observes this holiday is Rhode Island. My commute was noticeably faster today, which is probably due to the fact that the only "difficult" part of my relatively painless commute is the interchange in front of the Rhode Island state house. As far as I know, state employees are the only people in Rhode Island who don't have to come to work on Victory Day.

Apparently, Victory Day is somewhat controversial due to the events leading up to Japan's surrender. Why Rhode Island is the lone holdout amongst the states is somewhat confusing. According to the Wikipedia entry, one of the men purported to be the jubilant sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in the iconic Life Magazine photograph was from Newport, but that doesn't seem like a good enough reason to keep observing the holiday. For the record, I don't really have an opinion about the holiday. Not observing the holiday because of the atomic bomb smacks of historical revisionism to me. At the same time, we don't commemorate the end of any of our other wars with a holiday. Armistice (Veterans) Day once commemorated the end of World War I, but it's scope has been expanded to honor veterans of all wars since then.

I wouldn't be surprised if Victory Day eventually gets dropped from Rhode Island's state holiday roster after all of the people who fought and lived through World War II are gone. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if people are still taking it off 100 years from now, completely unaware of the historical significance of the day.


MDS said...

I've never understood why people dispute whether America needed to use the atomic bomb against Japan. America dropped an atomic bomb. Japan didn't surrender. America dropped another one. Japan surrendered. Doesn't the fact that they still didn't surrender after the first bomb pretty well demonstrate that the Americans had to do it to end the war?

dhodge said...

I visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum when I was in Japan. One of the arguments presented there, if I remember correctly, was that Japan would have been willing to surrender before the atomic bombs were dropped had the negotiation been handled differently. I suppose there may be some truth to that; had the allies and Japan understood each other better, perhaps a truce could have been negotiated. Given the amount of cognitive dissonance between both sides after four years of war, I don't find this argument incredibly compelling, but I suppose anything is possible.

dhodge said...

I also learned why Victory Day is a state holiday in Rhode Island. According to my neighbor, it's because the unions have refused to give it up.