V-J crowd celebrating in downtown Minneapolis, 1945**
May 8, 1945 to September 2, 1945
V-E Day (Victory in Europe) occurs on May 8, 1945, when the Germans sign the surrender outside Berlin. V-J Day (Victory over Japan) occurs on September 2, 1945, when the Japanese sign the surrender in Tokyo. The initial announcement of Japan’s surrender takes place on August 15, 1945 (August 14 in North America).
Records are sketchy, but somewhere, sometime during WWII, 326,000 Minnesotans served in uniform. One source lists 209,500 serving in the army and army air corps, 79,300 in the navy, 11,800 in the marines, and 3,500 in the coast guard. Of these, 5,843 died of combat wounds, 412 died in prison camps, and 54 were listed as missing.*
Victory Europe Day (VE Day) was a muted party for many because we were still at war with Japan. It must be difficult to cheer when your neighbor’s loved one(s) are still at sea, or storming the beach somewhere in the South Seas. Maybe the best way to describe the elation of this day, Victory Japan (VJ Day), is to just cite the Minneapolis Morning Tribune coverage of downtown at the exact time the news hit the streets the evening of August 14th. Enjoy!
“A few words from President Truman Tuesday night sent Minneapolis on an emotional “binge” in which all misery and waiting and expectation of four long years were suddenly changed in a few minutes into the joy of the war’s end.
The reaction to the President’s announcement came as tearful relief for some people on loop streets. For others it was wild yelling. For others the unexplainable, odd things that people do when they’re intensely happy.
At 6 p.m., Minneapolis streets were quiet. Then the announcement reached the streets in newspaper “extras”. On Fifth Street and Marquette Avenue, a half dozen women were talking-waiting. The news was brought to them by a Negro man about 50 years old, who came racing down the street aimlessly, tears streaming down his face, crying to everyone: “My God! My boys are coming home safe!”
Then the siren atop the Northwestern National bank building started to scream out the news-at 6:08p.m.-and the automobile horns took up the victorious chant, just a few at first because some drivers were afraid the news might be a false report.
Then the honking increased in intensity and wildness.” ***
Up north, in Duluth, the response seems as intense, yet with a slightly different focus on total peace rather then total victory. Maybe this is a subtle splitting of hairs, but worth noting. How does one describe euphoria? Maybe this headline from the Duluth News- Tribune encapsulates it; “Duluth goes Wild with Joy at Peace”.
“Unrestrained joy, bordering almost on hysteria, gripped Duluth last night as thousands swarmed the downtown area to celebrate the return of peace.
Confetti, feathers, torn bits of newspaper and even popcorn rained down from the top floors of downtown office buildings when home-bound workers caught by the news watched the gathering mob.
But less than an hour after the first whistles blew, thousands of reverent Duluthians bowed their heads in their chosen places of worship.
Meanwhile, shouts and cheers mingled with tears of joy as a tumultuous throng shoved, elbowed, and embraced each other in a barely moving stream down Superior street.”****
G-d Most High, we remember with You these fantastic days of victory and peace in the lives of our state and nation. What do You remember when You think of it? What did we think of You in this moment of when You removed war from our peoples’ shoulders?
Granted, we had Allies against the forces of Axis nations, but even so, somehow You guided us to win a two-front war?!? Even though our soldiers and resources were split and traveling vast distances to the battles? Let’s recount, for a moment, why this is so astonishing.
2445 mi. Distance New York City to Los Angeles
3968 mi. Distance New York City to Berlin
6413 mi. Distance of travel to win Victory Europe
2445 mi. Distance New York City to Los Angeles
2486 mi. Distance Los Angeles to Hawaii
4028 mi. Distance Hawaii to Tokyo
8959 mi. Distance of travel to win Victory Japan
In toto, all our resources and human resources were spread across the earth a distance of 15,362 miles?!
Further, those at home were also doubly split: maintaining regular life, and supplying the food, war materiel for our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Additionally, Americans supplied our Allied armies and their civilians’ needs with far less Americans in the work force?! How did You sustain them to do these monumental tasks and complete them in 1365 days; just three years, eight months, and twenty six days?!?
We recall, with You, the first incredible victory of the man and nation who was yet to become Your covenant partner(s); Abram. We remember that though he had only a force of 318 men, through You he routed four kingdoms?!? Next, he returned the slaves and plunder to its rightful owners, and took nothing for himself. Ultimately, he responded to victory in celebration, worship, and giving out of a heart of gratitude the share that other leaders would have usually kept for themselves.
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to G-d Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.’
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:18-20 NIV*****
In the culture of Abram, the lesser king pays tribute to the greater king; in words of acknowledgement, in deeds of service, and in treasure. So why did Abram give tribute to Mechizedek? Will You teach us from Your Unchanging Word, El Elyon, spoken through the author of Hebrews thousands of years later?
“…First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, ‘king of Salem’ means ‘king of peace,’” Hebrews 7:2b NIV******
But who is this King of Righteousness and Peace? We find the best clue in the words of
Psalmist which is talking about Jesus, the Coming Messiah.
“The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’” Psalm 110:4 NIV*******
Author Chara Donahue gives us a theological reference about this, saying “The Matthew Henry Concise Commentary said this about the Psalm: “[Jesus] is the Priest of the order of Melchizedek, which was before that of Aaron, and on many accounts superior to it, and a more lively representation of Christ’s priesthood.”********
So we bring this back home to the summer of 1945 in Minnesota, Lord. Thank You for giving them this victory over the Enemy of all mankind! We are so proud and grateful for the way our generations’ past remembered You in their exceeding happiness! Help us absorb their tremendous gifts to the King of Justice and their future generations; many gave far more than a tenth of everything they owned! May we remain ever awed and humbled at their generosity!
Will You make us a people, like them, in Your Image? Will You give us such sacrificial love for: neighbor, state, nation, and Your world? Will You help us hear their lesson; peace is not just absence of war, but it’s in acknowledging, serving, and practicing the worthy presence of Jesus, the Eternal Messiah, of the Order of Melchizedek, the King of All that is Right, and the Lord of All Justice? Come Lord Jesus, Hope of the Nations, and make right the wrongs of our broken relationships with You and each other! Come Lord Jesus and be the Eternal Prince of Peace of Minnesota, and of every tribe and nation of the earth!
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isaiah 46:10 NIV
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** Photo credit
*** citing Author Unknown, “Minneapolis Goes Wild With VJ Joy”, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, Minneapolis, MN. Wednesday August 15, 1945. Pg. 1
**** citing Author Unknown, “Duluth Goes Wild with Joy at Peace”, Duluth News-Tribune, Duluth, MN. Wednesday August 15, 1945. pg.1http://www.mnhs.org/people/ mngg/web_assets/images/duluthNewsTribune19450815.pdf