USS Missouri (BB-63) steaming to her anchorage in Tokyo Bay for the formal signing of the Japanese surrender, 29 August 1945. Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command (NH 96780)
Nearly 75 years ago, a Navy mess table was the center of the world’s attention. The deck of battleship USS Missouri bore witness to representatives of the Empire of Japan and the Allied powers. The occasion: the signing of the Instrument of Surrender, ending hostilities in a conflict that saw the loss of 85 million lives around the globe.
General Douglas MacArthur, new Supreme Commander, Allied Forces in Japan, oversaw the event. He invited the assembled civilian and military officials forward to make their signature with the hope:
“… that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past – a world founded upon faith and understanding – a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish – for freedom, tolerance and justice.” 1
General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command (80-G-332701)
MacArthur completed the ceremony with the words,
“Let us now pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.” 2
World War II was finally over.
The surrender location is marked on USS Missouri with a metal plaque. A miniature reproduction is held in the Museum Collection (1972.108.1). Brock Switzer/The Mariners’ Museum and Park
On Wednesday, September 2, 2020, the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, will livestream three hours of commemorative events over Facebook to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, from the very ship where it happened. The event will start at 8:45 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (2:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time), and the ceremony will begin at 9:02 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (3:02 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the exact time of the surrender ceremony in 1945). The commemoration can be accessed through the 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/75thwwii/.3
For more information on the commemoration and a full schedule of events, visit ussmissouri.org.4
Courtesy Bill Cogar
1 “General MacArthur’s Speech.” Naval History and Heritage Command online. Accessed August 20, 2020.
3 Bill Cogar, e-mail message to Lyles Forbes, August 15, 2000.
4 Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Accessed August 19, 2020. http://ussmissouri.org