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V-J Day: 76 Years of Remembrance

Today, seventy-six years ago, America and her Allies stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. This was a moment that had been greatly anticipated for the past four years. After all the sweat, toil, sickness, torture, capture, and death the men of the United States had observed in the island hopping campaign, their goal had been achieved. Victory had been secured. Freedom was preserved. Reflecting on this significant occasion, it became clear that the truth of Tokyo Bay is much more than the defeat of another nation. The truth of this moment was first of all, freedom. Japan had no intention of letting the nations it captured live according to their own consciences. Everyone had to yield to the Imperialistic code. However, even though they were poised to take the world (at the beginning of the war, Japan held more territory than any other nation before them in history), their tyrannical dreams were put to an end, when they signed the surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri. Second, it was a moment of hope. Hope that out of these dark days, good would come. Hope that the world could be healed of its wounds. Hope that lives could be rebuilt. Hope for a future-not just for individuals then, but for many generations to come. Thirdly, and finally, it was a moment of healing. There were so many emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual scars that resulted from that time of war. I mean, think about it, the war with Japan cost the American people 111,606 of her sons. 111,606 lives never lived. Dreams never fulfilled. Hopes never realized. These men never raised families. Never grew old. Never came home. Never got to see the culmination of their sacrifices. There was deep resentment. Bitterness. Hurt. Sorrow. How to heal from such loss? But standing on the deck of the battleship, it was a new day. A new time to start afresh and begin to heal the ugly wounds wrought by such a long war. General Douglas MacArther echoed the sentiments of all Americans when he said,

We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. The issues involving divergent ideals and ideologies have been determined on the battlefields of the world, and hence are not for our discussion or debate. Nor is it for us here to meet, representing as we do a majority of the peoples of the earth, in a spirit of distrust, malice, or hatred. But rather it is for us, both victors and vanquished, to rise to that higher dignity which alone befits the sacred purposes we are about to serve, committing all of our peoples unreservedly to faithful compliance with the undertakings they are here formally to assume. 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 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.

It was this crucial moment on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri, that a foundation was laid. A foundation for a future alliance that would blossom into a national friendship.

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