Victory at Sea

Recalling a symphony of peace sixty-five years ago

The General on the “Mighty Mo”
(with Parker pen in hand)
conducted a rare symphony
in Tokyo, Japan.

MacArthur (at the podium)
cued each part when to play.
The score was settled and rehearsed
before the world that day.

The cellos, horns and tympanis
surrendered to the fife
as flute-like melodies of peace
conveyed the end of strife.

There was no single signature
in this grand symphony.
The maestro welcomed changing keys
and varied harmonies.

The strains of “Victory at Sea”
were heard beyond the Bay
as World War 2 became past-tense
that gray September day.

The audience upon the ship
included one I know.
A shy Marine (a mere nineteen)
from Lapwai, Idaho.

My dad was there to hear the sounds
as war gave way to peace.
It was a concert he’d recall
until his life would cease.

And though he’s gone,
I celebrate this anniversary.
The strains of freedom still are heard
within this symphony.

Author’s note:
Today marks the 65th anniversary of the surrender ceremony that ended World War 2. On September 2, 1945 the eyes of the world focused on history’s stage and a performance that would not soon be forgotten.

That was the day General Douglas Mac Arthur (with his Parker fountain pen in hand) conducted a symphony of peace aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. This version of “victory at sea” would be repeatedly captured on film and newsreel.

As Mac Arthur cued the various performers to play their part on this historic day, a nineteen year-old farm boy from Lapwai, Idaho looked on. His is seen in the bottom right hand corner of this familiar photograph. That Marine Corporal looking back at the camera was my father, Edwin Asimakoupoulos.

Before he died twenty-months ago, my dad took great pride describing his memories of V-J Day. As part of the Marine Corps detachment aboard the “Mighty Mo,” he was selected to be one of the honor guards that day. My dad was chosen as an escort for Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko, who signed the treaty on behalf of Russia. By virtue of his privileged assignment, my dad stood about fifteen feet behind Mac Arthur and the other dignitaries.

Although my father is visible in several historic photographs documenting the end of the war, I like this photograph best of all. According to my dad, one of the Russian newsmen covering the event dropped his camera from an elevated perch. He told me he turned around to see where the noise was coming from. At that very moment another war photographer (with a better grip on his camera) snapped this historic picture.