Thursday, September 2, 2010

World War II Ended On This Date

On this date in 1945, representatives of the Japanese Emperor signed instruments of surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. A newsreel of the surrender ceremony is below.

The proceedings were so very unmodern. Which I mean in a good way.

First, they were brief. It was all over in twenty minutes. There were no keynote speakers, no introductions or formalities, no legions of lesser Generals getting into the act, no rigmarole of any kind.

Second, they were direct and pointed. General MacArthur begins his brief remarks by saying something I can't imagine coming from any contemporary American General:

"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."

I like that. No warm fuzzies, no pouring out of concern or remorse, no existential angst, no grand vision for the future. Nothing but a plain statement: we beat you.

Third, they were utterly unsentimental. There was neither weeping nor chest-thumping. Now, there was plenty of emotion, but the restrained kind that used to be associated with manliness. MacArthur had two men stand behind him: General Wainwright, who had been forced to surrender United States forces in the Philippines in 1942, and General Percival, who had been forced to surrender British forces at Singapore. That was a gesture of triumph, sorrow, closure, satisfaction, symbolism, and I don't know what all, but it was more powerful for being unspoken.

Last but not least, not a single PowerPoint slide was needed. (How did the military ever get anything done without them?) The documents were printed on parchment, fountain pens were used for the signing, and the news media covered it all with just paper and pencils, wind-up movie cameras, and a microphone.

And it ends just this simply: "These proceedings are closed."

We shall probably never see any occasion of such moment handled with such purposefulness and dignity again.


Federale said...

Peace, with that dirty Red signing. LOL.

TSB said...

The Reds joined the war against the Japanese about four days before the surrender, so it was very generous of MacArthur to include them among the "major warring powers."

A bitter pill. But nothing so bad as having them sit on the Nuremberg trials and find Germans guilty of crimes like dividing Poland, using slave labor, and waging aggressive war.