1995 32¢ Sailor and Nurse Kissing
WWII – 1945: Victory at Last
Issue Date: September 2, 1995
City: Honolulu, HI
Quantity: 5,000,000 panes of 20
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
President Truman Announces Japan’s Surrender
After nearly six years of a world at war, the Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945, effectively ending World War II.
By the summer of 1945, Germany had surrendered, ending the war in Europe. However, Japan refused to surrender and continued to fight. The Allies felt they had little choice but to launch a major attack. Experts estimated one million U.S. casualties would be incurred in this invasion. Japanese losses would have been much higher.
However, the U.S. had been secretly working on an atomic bomb, dubbed the “Manhattan Project,” which was ready to be deployed that August. The Allies gave Japan one last chance – surrender unconditionally, or be destroyed. When they refused, the U.S. dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6. Despite the loss of nearly 100,000 lives, Japan still wouldn’t surrender. Three days later, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, claiming another 40,000 lives. (Historians from both countries agree that the atomic bombs actually saved American and Japanese lives.)
On August 10, in the wake of the extreme losses and concerns over another bomb, the Japanese government said it would surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. However, the number of changes they wanted made to it was unacceptable to the Allies.
Though the Japanese hadn’t yet formally surrendered, this news was enough to begin celebrations around the globe. In London Allied troops danced in conga lines through the streets, while soldiers in Paris paraded on the Champs-Elysées singing “Don’t Fence Me In.” The people of Manila sang “God Bless America,” while U.S. troops in Okinawa fired every available weapon into the sky in celebration.
A little after noon on August 15, local time in Japan, Emperor Hirohito announced that he would accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. In America (where it was still August 14), President Harry Truman delivered the announcement at 7:00 that evening, though the formal surrender ceremony wouldn’t be held until September 2.
The moment the news hit, Americans began celebrating “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941,” as Life magazine put it. Huge crowds took to the streets across the country.
In Washington, D.C., a large crowd tried to get into the White House grounds shouting, “We want Harry!” Eventually, the president stepped outside and announced, “This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would.” New York’s Times Square had its largest gathering up to that time – about 2 million people. In the city’s garment district, workers threw cloth scraps and ticker tape in celebration. Celebrations continued around the world for the next two days with fireworks and parades.
Click here to see photos of V-J Day celebrations.
The fifth and final installment of the World War II series commemorates the 50th anniversary of the war's final year. Titled "1945: Victory at Last," these 10 stamps chronicle the events leading to Germany's surrender, the Japanese surrender, and ultimately the Allied victory. Nearly 300,000 American service personnel lost their lives between 1941 and 1945.
Sailor and Nurse Kissing
The people of Japan heard the voice of their emperor for the first time ever when he announced, in a radio broadcast, that the war was over. The Japanese were devastated – most responded by openly weeping. America’s response to the news was one of pure joy.
V-E Day celebrations had been stifled by the sobering realization that the war in the Pacific was still to be fought. But with the Japanese surrender, the war was truly over. Whistles blew, church bells rang, crowds filled the streets, employees left work early, and strangers embraced as the nation erupted in celebration.
Japan surrendered on August 14th, but the official ceremony was held September 2nd aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay. Two Japanese officials, as well as representatives from the U.S., Great Britain, China, Russia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada, France, and Australia signed the surrender document. September 2nd has been celebrated as V-J Day or Victory over Japan Day ever since.
Excitement subsided as serious speculation about the future began. People everywhere wanted to be sure the world would never suffer through such a calamity again. This hope was expressed on October 24, 1945, when the United Nations was signed into existence.