Letter: Maybe it’s time to stop celebrating Victory Over Japan Day?

Posted 8/13/20

In the current spirit of examining monuments representing the shameful aspects of American history, I think Rhode Island should widen its scope and revisit the celebration of VJ Day, which is …

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Letter: Maybe it’s time to stop celebrating Victory Over Japan Day?

Posted

In the current spirit of examining monuments representing the shameful aspects of American history, I think Rhode Island should widen its scope and revisit the celebration of VJ Day, which is observed, only by the State of Rhode Island, with state offices closing on the second Monday in August.

As this holiday comes and goes without hardly a notice, except perhaps by those surprised visitors to a closed library, and by the fact that our refuse is picked up one day later than usual, we might do well to remember that just days earlier, on Aug. 6, and 9, in 1945, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on two cities in Japan, killing hundred of thousands of Japanese, mostly civilians.

These two bombings remain the only uses of nuclear weapons in armed conflict … Ever. The United States alone holds that illustrious distinction.

Rather than worrying about possible nuclear proliferation in rogue and “hostile” powers, we should focus on the clear and present danger right here at home. 

Also worthy of consideration is the Monument in Touro Park in Newport of Commodore Matthew Perry. The statue  is of him, smartly attired in his uniform, his left hand resting on his sword. Below the statue the bas-reliefs depict primitively clad Japanese bowing in supplication to him, thus illustrating how, by means of military might, Perry forced the opening of Western trade with an unwilling Japan. 

Whether these monuments and holidays commemorating brutal American domestic and foreign policies should be done away with is a matter for further discussion. While they do remain, let us at least use their existence to remind us to learn lessons  for the future from the mistakes of the past.

Jean Sharac
Bristol

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