The culminating event in Virginia’s statewide commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II took place on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. (EST) as a virtual ceremony live-streamed from the deck of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk to pay tribute to our veterans and say thank you.
The ceremony, emceed by Greg McQuade, featured a reading from General Douglas MacArthur's September 2, 1945, speech by Major General Timothy Williams of the Virginia National Guard, a keynote from Chris Kolakowski, director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and former director of the MacArthur Memorial, and remote remarks from significant WWII sites around Virginia.
The Japanese document of surrender to the Allied Powers was signed on September 2, 1945, at 9:08 a.m. aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay (BB-63, Iowa class battleship), and the signing was presided over by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.
On that Sunday morning 75 years ago, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay, as the flags of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China flew above the deck of the Missouri.
Following signatures from Japanese officials, Supreme Commander MacArthur signed on behalf of the United Nations, declaring, “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.”
The USS Wisconsin (BB-64, Iowa-class battleship), docked in Norfolk, Virginia at the Nauticus Museum, is a sister ship of the same Iowa-class battleship as the Missouri, and provides both an accurate and powerful location at which we gathered to mark the end of the war.
Please watch our commemoration of this historic event as well as the final commission video tribute and view some of the scenes from our final signature event below!