Mr. Speaker, the day was September 2, 1945. World War II was in full swing, but the fighting was about to come to a close.
On August 15, the Empire of Japan announced that it would surrender to the Allies in accordance with the Allied terms laid out at the Potsdam Conference. In Japan, Emperor Hirohito spoke on the radio announcing his country’s surrender.
It was the first time the Japanese people had ever heard his voice. Across the United States, soldiers and civilians rejoiced together in the streets.
The Japanese announcement represented the end of nearly four long years of war. On foreign battlefields, thousands of brave, young Americans had lost their lives, and many more returned home with the wounds of war.
On the home front, laborers worked long hours in the factories, kids collected scrap metal, and families endured rationing. From Kilroy to Rosie the Riveter, all Americans were ready to embrace victory.
The day of the formal surrender finally arrived, and in the morning of September 2, representatives from the Allied powers made their way to the USS Missouri. Anchored in Tokyo Bay, the Missouri proudly displayed the flag flown aboard Commodore Matthew Perry’s flagship when he sailed into Tokyo Bay in 1853 to sign a treaty with Japan.
Admiral Chester Nimitz then welcomed aboard General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific, and the two took their places behind the surrender table. Finally, just before 9 a.m., the delegation from the Japanese surrender cabinet made their way on board.
After brief remarks from General MacArthur, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu signed the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the government and armed forces respectively. General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz each then signed the document and were followed by representatives from eight other nations.
Once all of signatures were made, General MacArthur declared, ‘‘Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are now closed!’’ Mr. Speaker, the costly victory won by the United States and her allies in World War II gave the world a new era of peace and prosperity.
It allowed millions around the world who had previously been under the yoke of fascism to enjoy the blessings of liberty and freedom. American soldiers dethroned tyrannical regimes in Europe and Asia, and we must never forget the sacrifices they made defending our country.
After all, the worst casualty of war is to be forgotten.
And that is just the way it is.