WASHINGTON — Dozens gathered at the National World War II Memorial Sunday to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the day Japan surrendered to the United States.
Known as V-J Day, it was September 2, 1945, when the official surrender document was signed aboard the USS Missouri.
Several World War II veterans were on hand for the ceremony, which featured the Navy Ceremonial Band. The veterans presented commemorative wreaths. Among them was retired Army Col. Frederick Clinton, who lied about his age at 16 so he could join the war effort.
“I wanted to recognize those who passed away in World War II,” Col. Clinton said. “I wasn’t in the Pacific, I was in the Atlantic … but I come out frequently.”
Now 91, Col. Clinton has digitized all of the paper records from the 63rd infantry division, his unit during World War II.
“That’s the important part that I play,” Col. Clinton said. “To keep that story alive so that people understand what it was like.”
After the ceremony, those in attendance were welcomed to approach the veterans, many telling their own stories of the war. One girl gave each of them a hug and thanked them for their service.
“It was a better reception than I got when I came back from Korea and Vietnam,” Col. Clinton said. “I appreciate it. It’s very nice of them, and I appreciate their honest approval of what we did in World War II.”
The ceremony also included a tribute to the late Sen. John McCain. While he was a veteran himself, his father served in World War II. McCain had given remarks at the 2016 ceremony at the World War II Memorial marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Flags at the memorial were flying at half-staff, ordered that way until McCain was laid to rest Sunday afternoon.
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