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“Japan Surrenders!”

The National World War II Museum reminds Americans of the anniversary of VJ Day and end of WWII

NEW ORLEANS (August 14, 2009) – No newsflash in modern history has ever been greeted with such overwhelming celebration as the announcement that Japan had surrendered, effectively ending World War II, a war that Americans thought would go on indefinitely. The iconic images of happy throngs holding up the newspapers that would go into countless scrapbooks and frames, the impromptu parades, hands in the air forming a v for victory, and the iconic images from Times-Square – including one very famous kiss between a nurse and a sailor.

America had been determined to stay out of World War II until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 ignited the country with patriotism and the ideals that would characterize the war era. However, the road to victory was a long one and many Americans doubted the war would ever end. Spirits were buoyed by the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945, called VE Day. But as eyes shifted towards an attack on the Japanese mainland, the war seemed to be far from over. It was the deployment of a new and terrible weapon, the atomic bomb, that forced the Japanese into a surrender that they had vowed never to accept.

Harry Truman would go on to officially name September 2, 1945, VJ Day, the day the Japanese signed the official surrender aboard the USS Missouri. But August 14 would continue to be celebrated around the world as the day the news spread throughout the world that war had finally come to an end. The day is still commemorated in Japan, Korea, Australia and other nations to varying degrees but has faded for the most part from the American calendar.

"You would be hard pressed to find a person who lived through that time that doesn’t remember where they were," says The National World War II Museum President and CEO, Dr. Gordon “Nick” Mueller. "The celebration spread through towns and cities of all sizes. But it was also a bittersweet day, a reminder of all the boys who wouldn’t be coming home. The National World War II Museum is dedicated to telling and sharing their stories so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn."

Though World War II was the most pivotal event of the 20th century, the memory of the valor and sacrifice of America’s Greatest Generation grows harder to summon as the men and women who fought its battles both around the globe and on the Home Front are passing away. Veterans are dying at the rate of 900 a day, and vanishing with them: the personal stories of epic battles and deeds of sacrifice and heroism that museums, historians and future generations must keep alive.

Recognizing the importance of saving these stories for posterity, The National World War II Museum is committed to preserving veterans’ histories. Museum historians have recorded more than 2,500 personal accounts from every branch of service and theater – including more than 1,000 video accounts recorded in high definition. These powerful interviews include men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, and even some who fought for the Axis. The collection began with the work of author, historian and Museum founder, Stephen E. Ambrose.

Such stories are an invaluable source for historians, researchers, filmmakers and future generations and they now serve as a cornerstone for current and future exhibitions. The Museum is now in the second phase of a $300 million expansion. The multi-phase project will open its next attractions on November 6, 2009: The Victory Theater will show the exclusive presentation Beyond All Boundaries, a 4-D, immersive experience created by The Hettema Group with Tom Hanks as Executive Producer. The Stage Door Canteen will be a lively venue recalling the days when a weary soldier could find food, entertainment and fellowship at these remarkable venues where entertainers boosted morale from the Home Front to the battlefront. The American Sector – a Chef John Besh restaurant, will draw inspiration from the foods that characterized mid-century America and became staples of our modern cuisine.

The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.

Visit The National World War II Museum VJ Day gallery on Flickr.com.

 

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