The United States entered the Second World War in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. For the next fours years Americans participated in what was arguably the greatest national endeavor in our nation's history.
World War II had an enormous impact on the state of Florida. More than 250,000 Floridians served in the Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard and almost 4,700 gave their lives. About 170 military training bases of various sizes were established in the state; while shipyards at Tampa, Jacksonville, Panama City, and Pensacola turned out Liberty Ships and landing craft; and Florida farmers helped feed both Allied soldiers and civilians.
Spessard L. Holland served as Florida's governor for most of World War II, but Millard F. Caldwell had been elected the state's twenty-ninth governor in late 1944. He presided over the victory celebrations that erupted across the state in May 1945 upon the defeat of Nazi Germany, and again in August 1945, when victory over Japan was proclaimed.
On August 10, when it became obvious that Japan was on the verge of surrender, Governor Caldwell issued a proclamation calling for Floridians to maintain the "solemnity and dignity of the occasion" by avoiding "boisterous conduct." He urged all establishments that dispensed alcohol to close for twenty-four hours following the announcement of the surrender. Nevertheless, when news reached the state a few days later of Japan's acceptance of surrender terms, joyous pandemonium ensued. "News of the Japanese capitulation last night hit Tallahassee," reported a newspaper, "with the force of Uncle Sam's new atomic bomb and was the signal for everybody to unloose that pent-up feeling and start what old-timers view as the most wild, spontaneous and enthusiastic celebration ever witnessed in the Capital City."
STATE OF FLORIDA
WHEREAS, the announcement of victory against Japan and the final end of the destructive world-wide conflict, in which we have been engaged since 1941, will be received by the people of Florida, of the United States of America, and of the entire civilized world, with gratitude and thanksgiving that we have been spared further damage and sorrow, and
WHEREAS, the solemnity and dignity of this occasion should not be marred by any boisterous conduct on the part of the thoughtless or by any tragic incident that can be avoided,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Millard F. Caldwell, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Florida, proclaim
in Florida as the twenty-four hours next succeding announcement of the surrender of Japan upon the proclamation by the President of the United States that hostilities are at an end, and urge that all liquor package stores, bars and tap rooms and other places dispensing alcoholic beverages, remain closed during that period;
I also call upon the Sheriffs, their deputies and other law enforcement officers throughout the State to cooperate in making V-J Day orderly, dignified and law-abiding in accordance with the spirit and intent of this proclamation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Florida at Tallahassee, the Capital, this the 10th day of August, A.D. 1945
Millard F. Caldwell
SECRETARY OF STATE