75 years ago, World War II ended with Japan’s surrender

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Ceremonies were held Wednesday aboard the Battleships Missouri and Wisconsin to commemorate the occasion.

NORFOLK, Va. — President Harry S. Truman may have summed it up best when he said, “The debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.”

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II and 405,000 died. Finally, after nearly four years, the war officially came to an end aboard the USS Missouri on this day, 75 years ago.

 At exactly 9:08 a.m. Pacific time on September 2, 1945, Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur accepted the “Instrument of Surrender” signed by Japan’s foreign minister on the deck of the battleship in Tokyo Bay.

Seventy-five years later, high above the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, two Navy F/A-18-F Super Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana squadron VFA-213 helped the Commonwealth of Virginia mark the momentous occasion with a virtual ceremony called, “A Better World Shall Emerge.”

“To all the men and women who sacrificed then have ensured our freedom today, we way thank you,” said Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), who is the chairman of the Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission.

Meanwhile, nearly 4,900 miles away in Honolulu aboard the Missouri, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also spoke about the importance of this day in American history and about the members of the Greatest Generation who made the victory in World War II possible.

“These intrepid patriots stood arm-to-arm and shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies, determined to achieve total victory, no matter how long it took.”

The heroes — all in their 90’s or older — are fading.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are now just 325,000 U.S. World War II veterans still living today, with an estimated  245 dying every day, before COVID-19.

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