tv Victory Over Japan Day Anniversary CSPAN November 11, 2016 6:00pm-6:36pm EST
invasion, our b-29s dropped two atomic bombs. which hastened the surrender of japan and saved untold thousands of american lives. so the mission of our air forces, which began nearly four years ago, was accomplished. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. on september 2nd, 1945,
japan formally surrendered to the allies nations ending world war ii. up next, a ceremony at the national world war ii memorial in washington, d.c. marking the 71st anniversary of victory over japan day. world war ii army veteran colonel james riffey delivers remarks along with representatives of the national parks service and friends of the national world war ii memorial. the program is 30 minutes. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. welcome to the world war ii memorial as we commemorate and celebrate vj day. victory in world war ii. ladies and gentlemen, our master of ceremonies for today's event is mr. mike highdeck. he's been a journalist for 20 years.
you can see him monday through friday on "wake up washington" from 4:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. mike was honored with a local emmy nomination for his primetime special "cool schools, the future is now." please welcome our master of ceremonies, a great american, mr. mike highdeck. [ applause ] >> hello. there we go. good morning, and thank you for joining us for such an amazing experience at the world war ii memorial. this is your world war ii memorial, and i'm honored once again to be your master of ceremonies as we commemorate and remember the allied victory in the pacific and the end of world war ii. can everybody hear okay? can you hear over the fountains and the airplanes and stuff? i just want to make sure. trying to make sure the microphone is close enough so you can hear. as citizens of a grateful nation, we salute those of the greatest generation who helped to preserve the freedom around
the globe. we offer a special salute to the men and the women of the armed forces who continue to serve and sacrifice in our ongoing war right now of terrorism around the world and their service is deeply appreciated. [ applause ] >> all of these war veterans past and present paid a debt in lasting service to our country. ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to introduce our official party for today's commemoration, our keynote speaker for today's ceremony, world war ii veteran colonel james l. riffey, the united states army retired. [ applause ] the superintendent of the national mall and memorial
parks. the united states maritime administrator. the chairman of the board for the friends of the national world war ii memorial. and our chaplain for today from the military district of washington. ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the presentation of colors and the playing of our national anthem and the invocation.
let us forever recognize we are made in our image. the prophet jeremiah likens you to a mighty warrior. because of this eternal truth, our very will and determination to stand against evil is a reflection of your character. may our country always be blessed with heroes such as those we honor here today. may we never forget and may your blessing remain upon the united states and those who serve to keep her free. i pray this in your holy name. amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, our co-host for today's ceremony is the national parks service, the caretakers of the national memorial. we are honored to have with us here today the superintendent of the national mall and memorial
parks. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. good morning, everyone. what a glorious morning you have brought us here on the national mall. on behalf of the national parks service, it is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to the world war ii memorial as we mark the 71st anniversary of the victory over japan, which effectively brought to a close the costliest conflict in human history. the world war ii memorial recognizes those who served in all theaters of the war, honors those who fell, and recognizes the victory they achieved to restore freedom and end tyranny around the globe. as we begin today's ceremony, i'd like to thank the friends of the world war ii memorial, our
partners, and great collaborators in the care for this memorial and co-sponsors of today's ceremony. the national parks service thanks you very much for your partnership and we share in your mission to ensure the legacy of remembering the sacrifices of world war ii veterans. i also want to take this moment to thank the national parks service staff who interpret and care for this magnificent memorial as well as our national parks service volunteers who help educate more than 4 million visitors who visit the memorial each year. to all the members of our armed forces and the veterans who are here with us, thank you so much for your service. we're honored to have you with us today. of course, there's no tribute,
no commemoration that can truly honor and fully recognize the m magnitude of your service and your sacrifice, so thank you. general douglas macarthur said, quote, it is my earnest hope, indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past. a world found upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished for freedom, tolerance, and justice. in our world, which is still struggling to achieve universal peace and understanding, herein lies the relevance of history
and the power of our nation's sacred memorials. these places are not just granite and marble reminders of those historic deeds of the men and women who struggled and fought and were ultimately victorious. these memorials are the reminders of the extraordinary things that come from people with otherwise normal lives. they help us understand the monumental trials and sacrifices that have shaped our nation, our government, our society, and they remind us of what we can all achieve when we work together as a nation. the national parks service is remarkably proud to be the stewards of this place and the other national memorials here on the national mall. and i can promise you that we will be here every day of every
year watching over these places, protecting them and passing on these stories that they represent of heroism, sacrifice, and the stories of our nation. thank you. and welcome. [ applause ] >> thank you and of course for all you for one of the most beautiful memorials in all of washington, d.c. don't you think? just stunning. this is just a stunning place to remember all the sacrifices. ladies and gentlemen, we are very fortunate to have mr. josiah bunting iii here as the chairman of the friends of the world war ii memorial, a road scholar, a vietnam war veteran, former superintendent of his alma mater the virginia military
institute. it gives me great pleasure to once again announce mr. josiah bunting. [ applause ] >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. this is as close to sacred ground as we have in our country at the midpoint between the washington monument and the lincoln memorial, the founder of our country, its principal sustainer. today we honor the more than 16 million americans who served in uniform in the greatest war in our history and in particular those veterans and those survivors of the great war in the pacific, the surrender of which was received by general macarthur on september 2nd,
1945. in one of our great national hymns, "america the beautiful," we honor heroes proved in liberating strife who more than self their country loved in mercy more than life. and in that hymn, in one of the later verses, we hear the line "america, america god mend thy every flaw. confirm our hearts in self-control our liberty in law." that is to say the experiment in liberty, which you are -- you soldiers, airmen, and marines are the sustainers. the experiment goes on.
and those of us who wish to serve that experiment do not do so by failing to stand up for the national anthem. [ applause ] >> for me and for most of us, that anthem represents a pledge to those who have given their lives and given their all to sustain that experiment in liberty. and if we do have flaws as a nation, what nation does not, our mission is to work ceaselessly as citizens to contribute in positive ways in its behalf. but not to honor old glory is no way to do that, so it is a double pleasure for all of us
and a privilege to honor those who are with us today, who survived the second world war to the deck of the u.s.s. missouri. thank you. god bless america. [ applause ] >> and ladies and gentlemen, we are very privileged to have with us today the united states army band and brass quintet, who will now perform a tribute to our veterans.
[ applause ] >> thank you so much for the patriotic celebration we have to remember all of us who have given their lives here. i am honored to introduce our final speaker today, colonel james riffey. he entered the army as a private in august of 1942 and retired as a colonel in september of 1972. during his 30 years of military service, he enjoyed a variety of interesting challenging assignments. during world war ii, he participated in the battle of okinawa as the commander of a rifle company and as an
intelligence officer in an infantry battalion. he was selected to attend infantry officers candidate school. colonel riffey holds many degrees, including -- it's a list and it's a great one -- military science from the university of maryland, master of arts degree in international affairs, master of science degree in administration from george washington university. he is a graduate of the army command and general staff college and the army war college. ladies and gentlemen, the distinguished colonel james riffey. [ applause ]
>> thank you very much. [ speaking in a foreign language ] this is an expression i learned in japan through the 5th of september 1945 until the 28th day of april 1946. today, we observe vj day, september 2nd, 1945. on that day 71 years ago, general douglas macarthur, who had been appointed supreme allied commander of the allied forces in the pacific assembled representatives of the nine nations aboard the battleship missouri in tokyo bay to witness the foreign minister of japan and the senior general from the imperial headquarters to sign
the surrender document. this marked the formal end of the war with japan that began on december 7th, 1941 when the japanese attacked pearl harbor and other military installations in that area. on december 8th, 1941, president roosevelt addressed a joint session of congress. i shall never forget his opening remarks. yesterday december 7th, 1941, a date that will live in infamy. these words are engraved on the walls of this memorial. it was a long road from pearl harbor to tokyo. 3,854 miles requiring three years and eight months for u.s. forces to reach their final
destination, but we were not alone. the armed forces of australia, the armed forces of new zealand, and the british airborne task force supported us throughout the war in the pacific. i would like to summarize a few of those -- that occurred between march 1945 and august 1945. during a two-week period in march 1945, 321 b-29 bombers operating in basis from an island 1500 ocean miles from japan dropped 10,000 tons of napalm loaded bombs on that country. 16 square miles of tokyo were consumed, 8200 of its civilians were killed, and over 1 million
were left homeless. during five fire bombing raids in march of 1945, 29 square miles of japan's main industrial centers were destroyed, 40% of its principal cities were damaged, and about 330,000 of its civilians were killed. this was not the first nor the last time that we had targeted japan, but it was significantly different because it represented a change in strategy from specific target bombing to incendiary bombing using napalm and carpet bombing that wiped out cities, shops, factories, and military installations. okinawa, an island less than 4000 miles from japan, was
attacked on the 1st of april, 1945, easter sunday by the tenth u.s. army consisting of four army divisions and two marine divisions. okinawa was the last battle of world war ii. it was also the bloodiest battle in the pacific. during 83 days of combat, american losses of personnel, ships, and planes were the greatest that we had ever had during the war in the pacific. the tenth u.s. army commander was also killed during the battle of okinawa. japanese losses on okinawa more than 110,000 were killed.
unknown number entombed in caves. about half of that number after the war had ended. japanese also lost in the battle of okinawa 7,830 of its war planes. when my unit, the 27th division, landed on okinawa, i was the first lieutenant leading an infantry rifle platoon of 29 men most of whom who were 18 and 19 years old. during the first three weeks of combat, seven of these brave young americans gave their life for their country. 14 others were seriously wounded and evacuated. they were my life and i think of them almost every day. i was also wounded. but when the shrapnel was
removed from my back and dressings were applied, i was allowed to remain with my unit. other actions leading to vj day. on july 26th, 1945, president truman, prime minister churchill at their conference in germany issued a statement known as the pottsdam declaratiodeclaration. this document outlined the conditions under which japan's unconditional surrender would be accepted. a b-29 bomber flown by colonel paul tibbets bombed the japanese city of hero hir roesh -- hiros.
i received a report from the japanese embassy in washington on the 18th of august. it showed a casualty of approximately 140,000 at hiroshima. in early april of this year, i received a telephone call from an individual who identified herself as a member of japanese fuji television. i inquired as to how they obtained my name and telephone number and she replied from the archives of the world war ii memorial. assuming they wanted to talk about the war in the pacific, i agreed to an interview. and on the 8th of april, a crew of three, including a television camera, arrived at my home.
i was surprised when their first question concerned secretary kerry's visit to japan and whether he should visit the memorial in hiroshima. i explained to them in some detail why i thought it was not appropriate for the president of the united states to visit hiroshima. to do so, i thought the people of japan may consider his visit as an apology for dropping the bombs on hiroshima aend nagasak. president obama was the first sitting president to do so. on august 8th, 1945, the soviet
union declared war on japan and invaded manchuria. on august 9th, 1945, as the bombing of hiroshima failed to bring about the immediate surrender of japan, a second atomic bomb dropped that day on the city of nagasaki from a b-29 flown by major charles sweeney. the estimates of casualties varied ranging from 35,000 to 70,000. the report that i received from the japanese embassy on august 18th stated that the casualties in nagasaki were 73,000 fatalities. on august 10th, 1945, the cabinet of the government of japan approved the emperor's
decision to accept the pottsdam declarati declaration, with the understanding he would remain the country's sovereign ruler. the same day, august 10th, the united states and her allies were notified of japan's decision. the united states sought to make it clear that after the surrender the emperor would have to renounce his divinity. however he would allowed to retain his title of emper ror. on august 14th, 1945, japan finally agreed to accept the terms of the pottsdam declaration with the u.s. assurance that the emperor would be able to retain his title and function as a symbolic head of state. on august 15th, 1945, in a radio address to the nation, the emperor stated that the enemy
has begun to employ a new and cruel bomb, the power of which we had never known before, and to continue to fight would result in the collapse of the japanese nation. general macarthur became the virtual ruler of japan. japan adopted the new constitution in 1947. on january 1st, 1946, the emperor renounced his divinity. it has been a great honor and a privilege to be with this ceremony today. and i want to thank holly and the other members of the friends of the world war ii memorial for
this opportunity. may god bless all of you and may god bless our beautiful, wonderful country, the united states of america. [ applause ] >> thank you, colonel riffey. at this time, ladies and gentlemen, we'll now prepare for the wreath laying ceremony at the wall. please remain seated as we prepare. interested in american history tv? visit our website, c-span.org/history. you can see our scheduled programming at c-span.org/history. fort knox was chosen because
it was america's most impenetrable location. it was the gold bouillon depository, had been open several years prior. there had been lots of gold already transferred there. so secretary of the treasury gives permission to use a portion of the depository for these documents. >> sunday night on q&a, an author talks about the decision to move america's most important historical documents to fort knox on december 26th, 1941. >> he has to make a decision what documents are going to be there. the original engrossed declaration, definitely. the original engrossed constitution, definitely. the articles of confederation p pre-constitution, for sure. he makes this decision very methodically, i think, on what's going to go to fort knox. these are considered the most valuable documents in the country and the magna carter is the document he's been asked to
preserve for the brits. >> sunday night on q&a. up next from the international spy museum, the story of slave and revolutionary war spy james lafayette. working for french general marquis delafayette, james lafayette posed as an escaped slave to penetrate war camps. the smithsonian associates and the international spy museum co-hosted this 80-minute event. >> good morning. good to see all of you here. i'm the museum's historian curator. i would like to welcome all of you to the third part of