With all of the news of the horrors along the Gulf Coast, much of this important event was been omitted from the headlines. I wanted to remember...not just those in dire circumstances along the coast, but also the events of 60 years ago...
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
SIXTY YEARS ago today, World War II officially ended on V-J Day, marking unconditional victory over the Japanese Empire.
It was on the overcast morning of Sept. 2, 1945, that the formal surrender document was signed on the quarterdeck of the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. A scratchy recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" blared out from the Missouris loudspeaker system.
Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu led the Japanese delegation in signing. Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed as Allied Supreme Commander, followed by individual allied commanders.
World War II was the bloodiest human conflict in the history of mankind. Its been estimated that 75 million persons were killed. About 16 million Americans served in the Armed Forces during World War II, and nearly 300,000 lost their lives.
The war in Europe had ended four months earlier. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally.
During the Tokyo Bay ceremony aboard the Missouri, Gen. MacArthur summed up Americas great desire for the post-war world:
It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past - a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfilment of his most cherished wish - for freedom, tolerance and justice.
That hope has not yet been fulfilled, but it indeed is the virtue which this nation seeks to maintain and foster around the world."
Here in my little town in north New Jersey, we vets from the American Legion and VFW held a ceremony yesterday remembering the signing of the peace document on the Missouri. We had a guest speaker who was a cook on the Missouri at that time and was part of the honor guard that manned the rails.
He described to us how quiet it was and how he could hear MacArthur speaking.
He described how many of the VIPs came aboard and passed through the honor guard. He said his four years on the Mighty Mo were the best of his life.
Another Missouri vet told how the Captain of the Mighty Mo was hesitant to proceed into Tokyo Harbor, as they were not sure all the mines had been identified or disabled. A Jap Destroyer was brought in to lead the Mighty Mo in. However, the Jap Captain was a little cranky and pulled along side the Mighty Mo and would not lead it into the harbor. The Skipper of the Missouri had a number of the gun turrents trained on the Jap Destroyer. That got the Destroyers attention and he quickly pulled ahead and lead the Mighty Mo into it's assigned anchor spot.
Most of our WWII Pacific theater vets then told where they were when the document was signed. It was shocking how many were in place and getting ready for the invasion of Japan. Every single one of them said he would not be here today except for the dropping of the Bombs and the end of that war.