World War II, fought from 1939 to 1945, was the deadliest war in history and involved more than 30 countries around the globe. More than 50 million people lost their lives during the war.
The USS Missouri Memorial Association will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with a ceremony today at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, themed “The Day that Launched a Better Future.”
TOKYO, Japan- Sept. 2, 1945- Allied sailors and officers watch Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur sign documents during the surrender ceremony aboard USS Missouri. U.S Army photo
Here are five things you may not know about Sept. 2, 1945:
1. The Instrument of Surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay, Japan.
The Instrument of Surrender was actually signed off the coast of Tokyo, Japan. On the morning of Sept. 2, 1945, Japanese representatives signed the surrender document during a ceremony on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri. This day marked the end of World War II.
Japanese representatives on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to participate in formal surrender ceremonies on Sept. 2, 1945. U.S. Air Force photo
2. The document was signed one month after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan.
On Aug. 6, 1945, a U.S. Boeing B-29 aircraft dropped the atomic bomb known as Little Boy on Hiroshima. Three days later, another bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. This was the first time atomic bombs were used in military operations.
3. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur signed the Instrument of Surrender for the United Nations, and Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz signed for the United States.
The rank of five-star, or OF-10, was first established in 1944 and is held during wartime. Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz were two of the nine five-star officers in U.S. military history.
4. Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s original flag was present during the signing.
On the USS Missouri that day was the original American flag flown in 1853 on the USS Powhatan by Commodore Matthew C. Perry (see in the background of the photo below). Perry flew the flag on the first of his two expeditions to Japan. Perry’s expeditions had resulted in the Convention of Kanagawa, which forced the Japanese to open the country to American trade.
Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2, 1945. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme Allied commander, reads his speech to open the surrender ceremonies onboard the USS Missouri. Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s original 1853 American flag can be seen in the background. Photo from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives
5. World War II did not officially end in 1945.
Although Sept. 2, 1945, is known as the end of World War II, the state of war formally ended when the treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 20, 1952. It was a peace treaty with Japan.
70th Commemoration Ceremony of the Formal Surrender of Japan and end of WWII
The 70th commemoration ceremony will begin at 9:02 a.m. Wednesday on the forward pier where the retired USS Missouri is berthed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That is the exact time on Sept. 2, 1945, when MacArthur, who was the supreme commander for Allied powers, began the formal proceedings for Imperial Japan’s surrender. It was heard on radio worldwide and brought history’s most destructive war to an end.
The ceremony will honor the veterans of World War II, recognizing how their sacrifices and bravery not only restored world peace 70 years ago, but also ushered in a new era of international collaboration, partnership and friendship between former enemies that continues today.
If you are unable to attend the ceremony in person, log onto USSMissouri.org to watch live at 9:02 a.m. Hawaii time (3:02 p.m. EST).