One of the most iconic images of the twentieth century is the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, seventy-five years ago this week. Like Robert E. Lee’s surrender to U.S. Grant in April 1865 the Missouri ceremony became known as the end of the conflict, which basically it was. Still, as with Appomattox eighty years previously, there were still armies in the field that had yet to surrender there in the Pacific. Less well known in the popular consciousness is the Japanese surrender the following day in the Philippines at Camp John Hay in Baguio. General Tomoyuki Yamashita and Admiral Denshichi Okochi surrendered just after noon and were then taken to a prison in Manila. That ceremony fell on Monday 3 September 1945, which also happened to be Labor Day.
Everyone understood the historical moment that was the Japanese surrender, but the war’s end was as much a beginning as an ending. The real work, on so many levels, lay ahead; great uncertainty, and even violence, starvation and chaos, remained. In her “My Day” column that appeared the same day as the Japanese surrender in the Philippines, Eleanor Roosevelt averred that “I do not think Labor Day has ever been as important as it is this year. Ordinarily we think of this day as merely a pleasant holiday which gives us a long weekend in which to enjoy our last bit of country air before going back to work in the city. It is a pleasant holiday, but its significance is far greater than that.”
Wherever you are, enjoy your day.
(image/U.S. Naval Historical Center)