What is Rhode Island Victory Day and why is it so important?

Rhode Island is preparing its Victory Day celebration – being the only US state with the a holiday of its kind.

With the state’s strong links to the US Navy, it may not be too surprising that the state still celebrates what is a controversial day.

Here is all you need to know about Victory Day:

What Is Victory Day?

Victory Day is a legal holiday celebrated in Rhode Island that commemorates the day Japan announced its surrender marking the end of the Second World War. To commemorate Japan’s August surrender in 1945, the state celebrates Victory Day on the second Monday in August. 

Victory Day was established in the state three years after the Second World War ended, in March 1948, when the General Assembly passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Richard Windsor, a long-serving East Providence Republican.

How does Rhode Island observe the holiday?

Since Victory Day is a state holiday and not a federal holiday, many state offices in Rhode Island will be closed to observe the day. This year, the Victory Day celebration will take place on Monday 13, August. An article in Rhode Island-based publication, The College Hill Independent, described Victory weekend as one of the “biggest beach-going weekends” of the summer”. 

Why is Victory Day Important? 

Victory Day was established by lawmakers in 1948, three years after World War II had ended. Throughout the years its celebration has drawn controversy; As The College Hill Independent article explained, opponents of the holiday say that since the surrender came days after the US dropped atomic bombs in Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “by excluding the memory of nuclear atrocity, and by reinforcing a US vs Japan relationship, some opponents of Victory Day believe Rhode Island endorses a limited historical narrative about America while supporting—however implicitly—anti-Japanese stereotypes”.

There have been numerous attempts to rename the holiday. In an effort to distinguish Victory Day from V-J Day, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a resolution in June 1990 insisting, “If this holiday had indeed been meant to celebrate annually the subjugation of one nation by another, and if indeed the holiday were officially Victory over Japan Day, then the pleas to change the name of the holiday would be justified. Such is not the case.”

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