Victory over Japan Day, also known as V-J Day, was celebrated 66 years ago today, when Americans gathered to mark the end of World War II following Japan’s surrender to allied forces.
Celebrants took to the streets in scenes that were described as “riotous” in cities like San Francisco.
Alfred Eisenstaedt’s LIFE magazine photo taken in Times Square in New York became the most iconic image for the day. The picture captures a sailor and a nurse, who had never met, engaging in a passionate kiss.
Similar celebrations took place across the country following President Truman’s radio address announcing Japan’s surrender.
“I was 16 years old, never been kissed,” Annie Wagner of West Chester, New York, told Cincinatti.com
. “But, boy, I got kissed a lot of times that day.”
People “went crazy and everybody headed downtown.” There was dancing in the streets and overturned streetcars, “it was one big party,” Wagner said.
Over time, Aug. 15 has been recognized as V-J Day, but Americans actually received word of Japan’s surrender on Aug. 14, when most of the consequent celebrations took place.
The “official” V-J Day is Sept. 2, marking the day that Japan signed formal surrender documents.
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