Rename & Change the Intent of Victory Day in Rhode Island

Rename & Change the Intent of Victory Day in Rhode Island

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Padma Venkatraman started this petition to Daniel Mckee and

This petition concerns Victory Day, (also called Victory Day, or Victory Over Japan Day), which is celebrated in Rhode Island on the second Monday of August every year. Victory Day is only considered an official holiday in Rhode Island. We’d appreciate it if you signed this petition, which proposes that we change the name Victory Day or simply stop celebrating it because it celebrates the day we bombed 75,000 unarmed civilians in Nagasaki. Victory Day is likely to bring up horrible memories for those who survived the horror of Japanese-American civilian internment camps, and for relatives of the survivors. Some Japanese Americans are even scared to go outside on this day. Signing the petition to make this change is especially important at this time, because there’s been a recent surge in Anti-Asian hate crimes. The coalition Stop AAPI Hate recorded 3,795 incidents involving Anti-Asian hate between March 19th last year and February 28th, 2021. 

With your support, we will hopefully be able to put a stop to the legacy of racial hatred by changing the name and intent of Victory Day; we could instead celebrate BIPOC veterans or honor the Nisei, (Japanese American), soldiers who fought for America in World War II. These soldiers fought for this country after we put so many Japanese-American civilians, including their own friends and family, in internment camps. Their deep love for this country that made them serve to fight for us, and their belief that America could change, should make us change and rename this holiday to a day that instead celebrates the bravery of these soldiers, and a day that honors the sacrifices they made.

Some people celebrate the beginning of the end of World War II on Victory Day. We agree that we should celebrate the end of World War II, and remember, respect and honor our troops and veterans. However, there is no reason to also celebrate the bombing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. We can celebrate the end of World War II on a different day. The defeat of the Nazis in Europe is celebrated around America on May 8th. People celebrate by joining in parades, marching bands, and marching down the streets. We suggest celebrating the end of World War II on May 8th, instead. And on Victory Day, we start honoring the Japanese-American Soldiers of World War II, or BIPOC veterans, so that we celebrate the brave soldiers who fought in that war. So that we do also celebrate the soldiers who led us to victory in World War II on Victory Day, only in a different way.

As an Indian-American girl, I would be enraged if there was a “Victory Over India Day.” Imagine how it would feel to have a day like this about your country. How mad and sad it would make you. With your support, we can easily avoid this by changing the intent of Victory Day and renaming it. And as an Asian-American, I stand together with the Japanese-Americans who feel insulted by the name of this day.

Even worse, this day kindles fear in some Japanese-American people. Some don’t feel comfortable going outside on Victory Day. Hiroko Shikashio, a Rhode Island resident of Japanese descent, said, “Because I am Japanese, I have always felt uneasy about going outside on that day. I think it is nice for people to have a holiday, but they should call it something else” (Nesi, 2018). We agree. We should name it after something else, something that honors the brave Japanese American soldiers of World War II or BIPOC veterans who aren’t remembered or recognized enough for their brave actions.

Furthermore, Victory Day celebrates, not mourns, the deaths of the “75,000” civilians in Nagasaki who were killed in the atomic bombing (Npr.org, 2019). Robert Oppenheimer (who is sometimes called the “father of the atomic bomb”) stated in a secret memo that “‘The active material of the bomb itself is toxic. There is about 10,000,000,000 times as much toxic material initially in the bomb itself as is needed for a single lethal dose.’ This level of radiation caused the immediate death of any person close enough to the initial blast, but more importantly, it caused severe and painful burns on others that were just outside of the blast radius” (History Crunch, 2015). The bombings also caused lasting health issues for survivors and the bombings have many effects that can still be felt today in Japan. “Both cities saw an increase in the number of leukaemia cases after the bombings... Other forms of cancer, including thyroid, lung and breast cancer, also saw an increase – albeit less marked. So did anaemia, a blood disorder that prevents the creation of enough red blood cells. More common health effects among survivors included cataract, which often formed years after the attacks, and keloids, abnormally protruding scar tissue that forms as burned skin heals... In the years following the attacks, the survivors became known as the hibakusha – “the explosion-affected people” – and were subjected to widespread discrimination” (History Hit, 2018). We should especially not celebrate the events that continue to cause pain, illness, and discrimination. And it is horrifying and cruel that we continue to celebrate an event that brought death, destruction, and suffering to innocent civilians, including children.

We’d appreciate your support to use this day to remember, celebrate, and honor the Japanese-American soldiers who fought for America, in World War II. Even “while many of their families were behind barbed wire [internment camps], thousands of other Japanese Americans served in the US Army's Military Intelligence Service and the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry and 442nd Regimental Combat Team” (Salyers, 2009).

Japanese American people were forced into internment camps after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, even though they didn’t cause the bombing. The camps had “insufficient rations and overcrowding” and “anyone who was at least 1/16th Japanese was evacuated, including 17,000 children under 10, as well as several thousand elderly and handicapped” (Wikipedia, 2020). 17,000 children were forced into these camps. Children. 

Imagine if your child or someone else you cared about and loved was taken away. Imagine how hard that would be. Imagine then, how much dedication and belief and love it would take to serve for those who inflicted that pain on you. Because after all this, more than 33,000 Japanese-American soldiers still served for this country. Let us use this day to remember the courageous deeds of these soldiers.

These soldiers committed such brave acts that one of the regiments the Japanese-Americans served in, “The four-four-two, went on to become the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history, receiving more than 18,000 awards for a battalion of 14,000 men over the course of the war” (Janssen, 2018). More than 20 of the Japanese-American soldiers who fought for the USA during World War II were also awarded a Medal of Honor, “the highest military honor awarded to an individual for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty” (WorldStrides, 2019). The 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry, the two military groups that Japanese-Americans mainly served in, both became the “most decorated American units of World War II” (Gentry, n.d.).

Please support us in celebrating the bravery of these Japanese-American soldiers from now on, every second Monday of August. For these brave soldiers served out of love for this country, out of a belief that this country could change. Private First Class Ted Teruo Fujioka, of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, said he was “fighting for a better America,” and Captain Sakae Takahashi, of the 100th Infantry Battalion, said, “We were fighting two wars, one for democracy and the other against prejudice” (WorldStrides, 2019). By supporting us in making this change to the intent and name of Victory Day in Rhode Island, by starting to celebrate these brave soldiers, or BIPOC veterans in general, not the deaths we caused in the bombings, we can start doing exactly that.

This change is urgent now because of the recent increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. By signing this petition to change the name and intent of Victory Day in the state of Rhode Island, or to cease the celebration of this day altogether, you will be supporting them in striving for a better, fairer, America.

Sincerely,
Karuna, Cedric, Haley, Eliza, and Alex

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