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A day to remember
For my father, Sept. 2 held historic significance. On that day in 1945, his 19-year-old eyes witnessed the official end of World War II. Standing 20 feet behind Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Dad was the Marine honor guard at the ceremony marking Japan’s official withdrawal from hostilities against Allied Forces.
To the day of his death four years ago, my father reflected with gratitude on the unique privilege he had to be part of history.
Several months ago, I received an email from the curator of the USS Missouri ship museum, informing me of his desire to feature my father as a representative of the seagoing Marines in a special display. The exhibit would celebrate the unique contribution of the Marine Corps detachment aboard the Mighty Mo.
The curator informed me that the exhibit would be unveiled on Sept. 2 this year, following the annual remembrance ceremony aboard ship to which we were invited. You can imagine my joy!
On the morning of Sept. 2, ominous clouds over Pearl Harbor gave way to a rainbow framing what would be a day to remember.
The changing weather was most appropriate. The peaceful end to the war was being recalled in the very place it had begun seven decades earlier beneath the dark skies of invading bombers.
Following the ceremony, my wife and I were escorted to the exact spot on the ship’s deck where the eyes of my father (and that of the world) were focused that day 67 years before.
History, family pride and providence intersected before me. It was holy ground. Even the assigned reading from my One Year Bible for that day anticipated the sacredness of the moment. It included excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3 — “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven … a time for war and a time for peace.” And Psalm 46 — “He causes wars to end throughout the earth…”
Then Wendy and I were escorted to the glass-encased collection of my father’s memorabilia. In addition to an array of photographs, the artifacts include his Marine cap, a metal-covered New Testament, his Selective Service card.
The display also features a letter my dad wrote to his parents after an unexpected reunion with his Marine brother on Guam and a letter written from the chaplain to his parents attesting to the fact that he had attended chaplain services.
Viewing my dad’s display on the USS Missouri was indeed a “day to remember.”