HONOLULU (KHON2) — A small, socially distanced ceremony to honor the 75th Commemoration of the End of World War II was held on Sept. 2 aboard the USS Missouri, exactly 75 years after Japan signed the Instrument of Surrender.
The ceremony marks the end of a 5-day long celebration that honors the men and women of the Greatest Generation. Watch the final day’s events here.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was present for the Sept. 2 ceremony, and praised the 20 Hawaii WWII veterans who were present for the ceremony.
“I’d like to extend a very special welcome to the members of the greatest generation with us this morning, whose remarkable stories of courage and heroism are forever etched into our nation’s heart and history.” Esper said.
The veterans were just boys when the war broke out, some just out of high school, and many had witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Noticeably absent from the ceremony were 43 veterans that were scheduled to arrive in Hawaii this past weekend. They had been in self-quarantine in preparation to participate in the program.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, their flight was canceled to observe safety precautions. A roll call of these men recognized their service in the Army, Navy, Army Air Forces and Merchant Marines.
Among the veterans who could not appear in person was Jerry Pedersen, a 95-year-old who lives in Sacramento. Pedersen was a part of the original Mighty Mo crew that witnessed the historic signing which ended the war 75 years ago.
“There was no celebration of any kind. Everybody’s serious.” Pedersen said. “Part of the feeling was the excitement of yes, it’s all coming to a close.”
The current Navy Region Hawaii Commander, Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, says that the Greatest Generation’s legacy lives on to this day.
“All of us who wear the uniform today understand the gravity of the legacy we inherited from that generation.” Rear Admiral Chadwick explained. “We all strive to honor their service with our service.”
With the signing of the documents, General McArthur wrote there was still a lot of work to be done to preserve and maintain those elusive goals so many had fought and died for: justice, tolerance and peace.
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