The Day That We Won World II
August 14th, 1945
and How We Joined the Entire Nation in Celebration
Please join us by flying your American Flag tomorrow, August 14th, to celebrate the 71st anniversary of VJ Day.On the afternoon of August 14, 1945 (the 15th in Japan), Emperor Hirohito unconditionally surrendered Japan to the U.S and our allies. This action ended World War II less than four years after the Japs’ deadly, sneak attract on the American military bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Last August, Pat and I shared our memories of the original VJ Day. We both remembered that day like it was yesterday. Rumors of Japan’s immanent surrender had been rampant all of that hot summer day in 1945. Late in the afternoon, President Truman (who hastened the war’s end by authorizing the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki earlier that month) held a press conference. Every radio in America was tuned in as he announced the Japs’ unconditional surrender – noting ”this is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor”.
Truman’s announcement set off bedlam across the country as people took to the streets in the greatest spontaneous, national celebration ever seen. In Norristown, our hometown, every church bell in town rang for hours that night, as did every fire siren, factory whistle and car horn. Why not celebrate. We won? The war was at last over and everyone’s loved ones would be coming home.
People took to the streets shouting, waving flags and celebrating in every imaginable way. Rumors that there would be a big, local victory parade, later that evening, quickly spread around Norristown. Pat and her parents walked to the nearby West Marshall Street business district to celebrate and watch the parade. My parents took our family down to the Town Square on Main Street to do the same.
Both families were caught up in the emotions of the day and joined the party, albeit in less a boisterous manner than most of the celebrants. The streets were filled with celebrating people from store front to store front. Traffic could not get through the jammed streets if it had to – begging the question of how the victory parade would get through when it came.
We celebrated, and we celebrated, and then we celebrated some more. And we waited, and we waited and, then waited some more for the parade. As the crowd grew and the booze flowed the crowds became louder, more exuberant and more boisterous. Separately, both families eventually became tired and totally celebrated out so our parents decided, despite our protests, that it was time for the kids to be home in bed.
The next day, we learned that it was a good thing that we hadn’t waited any longer for the victory parade because it never came. Evidently, most of the participants celebrated a little bit too much that evening and were too drunk to march anywhere by the time the parade was scheduled to start.
Parade or no parade, neither Pat or I never forgot the original VJ Day on August 4th, 1945. Please fly your American Flag tomorrow in to commiserate the anniversary of that historic day.
August 13, 2016
Based on the joint recollections of Pat & Frank Fleming
Recorded by Frank Fleming and posted