Today is the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, marking the official end of World War II. I almost forgot, probably like millions more. This is an important day, not as dramatic as D-Day, perhaps, but it marked the end of the long and deadly war in which thousands of lives were lost, sacrificed and killed.
The official surrender documents, ending the war, were signed by the Japanese on the USS Missouri, Sept. 2, 1945.
I was fortunate to see an enlarged snapshot of that historic moment on the USS Missouri, taken by a neighbor, a sailor serving on the ship. It was exciting to see and hear about his personal experience and brush with history. Sadly, the “living historians” are nearly gone.
I think of WW II as a monumental war that was more than written history. I had relatives in that war and heard their stories, some of friendship and loss. Historically, WW II was a war fought for freedom by democratic nations; it was a just war fought not to suppress, but to liberate, it was a war fought against aggressive oppressors and evil.
Because Japan surrendered after Germany, we also celebrate VE Day, Victory in Europe Day, on May 8, the day in 1945 Nazi Germany surrendered, ending a six-year-war. But Japan stood firm and continued to wage war in the Pacific against the advancing U.S. Army, only to surrender a week after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Aug. 6 and 9.
We, and subsequent generations, must remember the entirety of WW II, man’s inhumanity to man, and the noble mission we embarked on. And, in doing so, we honor our rich history and those who came before, and contributed to the greatness of America.