September 3, 2015 – PEARL HARBOR (NNS) — More than 400 service members, veterans, government employees, foreign leaders, and civilians attended the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II held aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial on historic Ford Island, Sept. 2.
The surrender took place on the wooden decks of the battleship USS Missouri (BB 63) also known as the “Mighty Mo” on Sept. 2, 1945. Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and other world leaders signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender marking the end of the war.
Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, served as a distinguished guest speaker during today’s ceremony and offered remarks to those in attendance.
“Spin the calendar ahead 70 years and we gather here only a ship’s length away from the USS Arizona, perhaps the most famous icon representing the beginning of the War in the Pacific for so many Americans,” said Swift. “Many Arizona Sailors remain entombed within the ship they served, a reminder to all of us who serve our nation do so without regard for reward or destiny.”
Noting the transition from war to peace, Swift stressed the importance of commitment to U.S. allies, partners and friends and the importance of cooperation between all nations and strengthening these relationships.
“Like all who lost their lives during World War II, they guard an enduring peace that has allowed former enemies to become friends,” said Swift. “It was the actions of those like . . . who were so fortunate to survive the war that enabled so many nations to ride a rising post-war tide of security, stability and prosperity that continues in their wake for us to enjoy today.”
Swift also expressed his gratitude to the veterans for their sacrifices, their strength and for the future they secured for the new generations.
“We remain indebted to these veterans whose service demonstrated the selfless actions of the ‘greatest generation’,” said Swift. “May those who lost their lives to bring us peace be honored here today and into the future.”
During the keynote address, Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii commended the collaboration between the United States and Japan in their efforts to rebuild the world around them and improve mutual understanding and respect after the war.
“Despite the exhaustion from years of war America recognized it could not simply retreat from the world. So instead of turning our backs on the world, we turned our enemies into the allies that they are today,” said Schatz.
More than 2,000 Sailors and Marines attended the original surrender ceremony, which lasted less than 30 minutes. Among them was Radioman Second Seaman Donald Fosburg. A former crew member of the Missouri, Fosburg celebrated his 89th birthday and was honored with the national ensign during the ceremony. He recalled what he felt returning to the ship more than seven decades later.
“It was a day you would never forget, we squeezed in every nook and cranny,” Fosburg said. “I stood here on the deck of this great ship and witnessed the signing of the formal surrender of the Japanese empire to the allied forces. What a great day that was.”
The ceremony concluded with a U.S. Navy ceremonial gun salute, Amazing Grace performed by Celtic Pipes and Drummers of Hawaii and echo taps played by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band.