Seventy years ago today, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces. This was the second of three victories that ended World War II.
The first came on May 8, 1945, when the Allies accepted Germany’s surrender, eight days after Adolf Hitler committed suicide. This is known as V-E Day (“Victory in Europe”). The second came today, when Japanese forces laid down their arms. This is known as V-J Day (“Victory in Japan”). The third came on September 2, when Japan signed a formal treaty of surrender in a ceremony held aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
My father fought in the South Pacific during World War II. Most of the soldiers stationed with him were killed by the Japanese. Like many veterans, he would not discuss the atrocities he witnessed, though they marked him for the rest of his life.
As his son, I want to share two reflections.
First, I need to express gratitude that cannot truly be expressed to the men and women who fought and died so we could be free. Like my father, millions of Americans volunteered to defend a nation that can never repay their sacrifice.
My father’s life was forever changed by his war experience. He had planned to become a doctor, but lost four years to the war and had to change careers. Health issues resulting from his service plagued him to the day he died. His spiritual scars were unseen but even more profound. Today I want to thank him and an entire generation that saved our nation for my family and millions more who are equally in their debt.
Second, I want to consider the battle that must be fought to preserve what my father fought to protect. As his son, I am moved today to pick up the mantle of his courage in serving a cause worth my life. His war was military; mine is spiritual. His was against an enemy he could see; mine is against “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). As is yours, if Jesus is your Lord.
I’m reading George Friedman’s Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe. Friedman, one of the foremost geopolitical analysts of our day, notes that societies are divided into three phases. The first phase is barbarism, when people impose their laws on the world. The second is civilization, when people believe in the justice of their ways but are open to the idea that they might be in error. The third is decadence, “the moment in which people come to believe that there is no truth, or that all lies are equally true.”
The Nazis and Japanese nationalists represented barbarism. Does the United States now represent decadence?
On this 70th V-J Day, let’s pause to remember those whose sacrifice and bravery we commemorate. (Tweet this) Let’s thank God for the privilege of living as free people in a free country. And let’s commit ourselves anew to the moral and spiritual awakening our culture so desperately needs. (Tweet this)
After describing how Europe conquered much of the world, Friedman notes: “Ultimately the ability of the Europeans to conquer the world but their inability to conquer themselves would prove part of their fatal flaw.”
What will history say of us?