Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Wedding Anniversary Never To Be Forgotten

Was my wedding the last one of World War II or the first one after WWII? The date was September 1, 1945, the time was 4 p.m. and the location was St. Augustine Church in Waikiki.

The importance of my wedding paled in comparison to an international historical event that was taking place at the same time thousands of miles away.

Before leaving the house for the church, the guys in my wedding party joined my father and me in a toast. A toast, not to my impending wedding, but to the end of World War II. Our ears were glued to the radio as we drove to Waikiki.

We listened intently as the announcer described the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz aboard the battleship USS Missouri for the signing of the formal surrender by Japan.

After the church ceremony, the wedding party had to travel through Waikiki to downtown Honolulu for formal wedding photos. It was sheer bedlam as the entire island celebrated the formal ending of the war that started at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Driving through Waikiki and Honolulu was scary. People in and out of uniform filled the streets from one side to the other. It was a continuous wave of people. More than one guy poked his head in the car to kiss the bride. Then, too, there was the noise created by sirens, church bells, whistles and noisemakers. Confetti and streamers were all over the place.

The good part about being married on V-J Day was that I never had to worry about remembering my wedding anniversary.

It has been my pet project to complain to local and national publications every year about the date associated with the signing of the declaration of surrender. It was September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay, but September 1 in the Territory of Hawaii and the United States.

Several years ago I talked to a reporter from The Honolulu Advertiser concerning the actual date and he told me that he was following what historians wrote and that he could care less of what I thought.

The headline for the Final Edition of The Honolulu Advertiser on September 1, 1945 read, “SIGN SURRENDER TODAY.”

Here is what the Governor of Hawaii had to say in his Proclamation:

Whereas, the signing of the terms of surrender of the empire of Japan on September 1, 1945, Hawaiian time, will constitute the final step in the achievement of victory all over the enemies of our country and is the occasion for great rejoicing, and

Whereas, such capitulation is of special significance to the inhabitants of the Territory of Hawaii who received the first blow of the treacherous attack of the Japanese, and whose labors and sacrifices have contributed in no small measure to the achievement of victory;

Now, therefore, I, Ingram M. Stainback, governor of Hawaii, in order that this victory may be suitably observed, do hereby proclaim, pursuant to the authority vested in me by Section 21 of the Revised Laws of Hawaii, 1945, that Saturday, the first day of September, 1945 shall be and is hereby designated as a territorial holiday.

Whenever you see an article pertaining to the signing of the surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri remember that the ceremony occurred on September 1, 1945 Hawaiian War Time or September 2, 1945 Japan Time.

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