- Governor and Legislators of Rhode Island
- United States of America
Dear Fellow Rhode Islanders,
With our minds awakened to the angst that certain memorials can cause, it is past due for Rhode Island to face and accept that Victory over Japan Day negatively affects our Japanese-American citizens and that it negatively reflects on our otherwise genuine effort to be the best state we can be.
Every day I appreciate living in Rhode Island because our state has led in legislation that ensures inclusiveness and demonstrates that the well-being of all our citizens is important. So I wonder, given the current social awakening of how certain actions (and inaction) assert oppression upon targeted minorities, how will our legislators respond to the annual speculation from the nation’s and local media as to why we continue to practice this holiday?
I try to imagine what this day must feel like to a Japanese-American Rhode Islander. Likely they or their relatives were corralled into internment camp, stripped of all their assets, and never properly compensated after the war. They may have relatives that died in Nagasaki or Hiroshima or suffered horrifically from radiation poisoning. And, to remind them annually of the trials that they and their families suffered, their home state celebrates Victory over Japan Day. It is the only holiday Rhode Island celebrates around any specific war. A war that decimated a race and their cities. For seventy-five years, Japanese-Americans of Rhode Island are singularly humiliated and demonized by this holiday.
The argument that the official name ‘Victory Day’ is not explicitly about Japan is a poor attempt to gloss over the fact that its origins are firmly rooted in V-J Day. It is an attempt to force fit a modified definition, that is not held by recorded history or the public at large, to justify its continuance. WWII unarguably had a unique impact on Rhode Island due to the number of soldiers sent to war and the amount of equipment and goods manufactured for the war. But rather than suggest that any one war or any one soldier’s sacrifice is so much greater as to warrant a separate holiday, our Nation’s Veteran’s Day provides the opportunity to reflect upon the impact of and rationale for wars, and to honor and thank Rhode Island soldiers, veterans and their families for their sacrifices.
I put forth, that if we have to annually debate and defend this holiday then it is past time for us to be honest about this holiday’s history, stop making excuses for it and decide whether it reflects the values of Rhode Island citizens as a whole. Celebratory alternatives would preserve a state holiday and give it meaning that can be embraced by all our citizens.
One possibility is Celebrate Rhode Day to encourage Rhode Islanders to enjoy a staycation, exploring beaches and State Parks, attend food and music festivals showcasing local artists and businesses, and attend events at historic sites highlighting Rhode Island’s critical role in the birth of America and ongoing evolution.
Our veterans who were Japanese prisoners of war have journeyed back to Japan to forgive and embrace the very people who imprisoned them. These soldiers know the war is long over and that there is honor and healing in moving on.
With that in mind, please sign the petition below.
P.S. George Takei spent a few years of his childhood in an internment camp. This article in Forbes provided a glimpse into how trying it was for him and other Americans of Japanese descent during WWII.
Participate in Lois Harada's #RenameVictoryDay.
A parallel petition presents additional arguments for change Change RI Holiday Name.
We, the undersigned, call on the State of Rhode Island to end the celebration of Victory over Japan Day (officially known as Victory Day) and consider creating a holiday to celebrate the unique qualities of Rhode Islanders that demonstrate pride in our history, natural resources, industry and diverse community.
The Transform Victory over Japan Day to an Inclusive RI Holiday petition to Governor and Legislators of Rhode Island was written by Amanda Woodward and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.