History in the Making
When an anxious nation heard the official word of Japan’s surrender to end World War II, spontaneous celebrations erupted on American streets on August 14, 1945, known as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day.
Crawford County “broke loose,” according to accounts in the Pittsburg, Kansas Headlight and Sun. The exuberance carried on for the next two days, proclaimed as a legal holiday.
Two years later, returning veterans launched their own celebration with the first annual Arma VJ Homecoming on August 14, 1947.
The event embodied the joy of coming home with a parade led by the newly formed Lon M. Helm Jr. American Legion, “tots” bathing beauty contest, kids races, tug-o-war matches and a free dance. Many of these events continue to this day.
As event grew, community members officially partnered with the Lon Helm Jr. Post 182 American Legion by creating the Arma Homecoming Association, Inc. in 1976.
Uniquely, Arma commemorates a three-day VJ weekend each August as a tribute to veterans of all conflicts, as well as entertaining families for more than seven decades.
About Lon M. Helm Jr. Post 182
Four months after returning from the end of World War II, Arma veterans organized the Lon M. Helm Jr. Post 182 American Legion in January 1946. The post is named after Arma native Lon M. Helm Jr. who was declared lost at sea in 1943. Among its original members were 15 sons from three Arma families – the Kovacics, Kmetzs and Varsolonas – who all returned from World War II.