This Day in History… August 14, 1945

President Truman Announces Japan’s Surrender 

#570434 – V-J Day postcard

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. The U.S. had been secretly working on an atomic bomb, dubbed the “Manhattan Project,” which was ready to be deployed that August.

U.S. #2981h – President Truman announcing Japan’s surrender.

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.

The extreme losses, and fear of another bomb, led to Japan’s surrender on August 15, local time. 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.

U.S. #2981i – Americans celebrating Japan’s surrender and the end of the war.

The moment the news hit, Americans began celebrating. Huge crowds took to the streets across the country. New York’s Times Square had its largest gathering up to that time.

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