The end of World War II came in an official ceremony on the battleship USS Missouri, with one-time captive Gen. Jonathan Wainwright among the allied officers receiving the surrender of imperial Japan.
He had surrendered his American and Filipino command on an island in Manila Bay just a few years before, when the Japanese empire’s armed forces swept the table with victories across a third of the world, from Pearl Harbor to as far as Ceylon in the Indian Ocean.
Only on Aug. 14, 1945, did the war end, with the unconditional surrender of Japan. Wainwright’s presence at the ceremony was the first act of remembrance for the war, in a way.
That remarkable day 66 years ago was again marked at the Old State Capitol in a ceremony that remembered the fallen who did not return from the war, but also celebrated America’s sense of unity and purpose in the vast conflict.
Earl Flatt was one of the Marines who fought the tenacious Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima in one of the most savage encounters late in the Pacific war.
As in several other island battles before Iwo Jima, the Japanese garrison ended with only a few prisoners left out of thousands of defenders.
And that after immense bombardments by the highly skilled naval and air forces accompanying the landing.
“Folks, it wasn’t easy,” Flatt told the Baton Rouge gathering. “We learned nothing is easy in war.”
That is an important lesson today, in light of the loss of Marines or other Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We commend the organizers of the “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive” event at the Old State Capitol.
The epic saga of World War II is part of American history, but the individual sacrifices of the living participants of those battles are more vivid than accounts in the history books.