WWII: 75th Anniversary of Victory over Japan Day

Sept. 2, 2020 marks 75 years since the end of World War II.

WWII: 75th Anniversary of Victory over Japan Day
FILE - In this Sept. 2, 1945 file photo, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, left, watches as the foreign minister of Japan, Mamoru Shigemitsu, signs the surrender document aboard the USS Missouri on Tokyo Bay. Lt. General Richard K. Sutherland, center, witnesses the ceremony marking the end of World War II, with other American and British officers in the background. (Source: AP Photo/C.P. Gorry, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death -- the seas bear only commerce men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed.”

Those were the words of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers during an address to American People on September 2, 1945.

It marked the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II – 75 years ago, today. A day that we now know as V-J Day.

The numbers from WWII are staggering. Estimates put the death toll of military and civilians somewhere between 70-100 million people – or about 3% of the world’s population (2.3 billion).

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8, 1941.

Just a day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt went before Congress to declare war against Japan. Congress passed the declaration of war, with only one dissenting vote.

Three days later, Germany and Italy -- allies of Japan and part of the Axis of Evil -- declared war on the United States.

Battles in the Pacific and European theaters for the U.S. were the bloodiest since the Civil War.

Over the course of WWII, 418,500 American service-members and civilians lost their lives.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 300,000 of the 16 million World War II veterans who fought in the war are still alive today.

The latest statistics from Veterans Affairs show South Carolina still has more than 5,000 WWII veterans who live in the Palmetto State.

Sadly, those numbers are dwindling, with more than 200 WWII veterans who are expected to be lost each day (before COVID-19 statistics have been accounted for).

It’s all the more reason on the 75th anniversary of WWII to honor the greatest generation for the next 75 years.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.