HARRY S. TRUMAN (1884-1972)

Full size scan from Surrender Photo

His signature appears at the right hand bottom of the Commemorative Print. The original signature was written in black ink, but has now changed to a medium brown color. The rusty brown color is due to the evaporation of the water in the ink.

Truman was born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri. His early interest in the study of American and world history formed a background for political leadership. A youthful Truman would fail the physical for admission to the United States Naval Academy. (poor eye sight) As Commander in Chief, he ironically would command the largest Navy in the world.

Early interest in the military services led to his enlistment in the National Guard and later to his service in World War I as a Captain of Artillery. After the war, he continued his military career rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard.

The post World War I years found Truman in a business which failed. Eventually, this led him into politics as a county judge. His political talents helped carry him to the United States Senate from 1935 to 1941. Re-election for a second term in the Senate helped propel him as the candidate foe Vice-President on the Democratic Party ticket in 1944. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945 now place Harry S. Truman as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

The Office of the Presidency was now in the hands of a man who never truly sought the position. The world was still locked in the turmoil of World War II. No other President has ever faced the multitude of difficult decisions that now fell to the "Man from Missouri." High on the list of difficult decisions was the use of the atomic bomb. Many historians claim that President Truman was not even aware of the atomic bomb project prior to April 1945. This is not the case, he was informed by President Roosevelt in August of 1944.

The Japanese's fanatical defense of the Islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa indicated that the invasion of the main Islands of Japan would be very costly. The estimated American and Allied casualties could have numbered over one million. The extent of the Allied and Japanese preparation for the coming invasion was enormous in its scope.

Over two million well equipped and fed Japanese troops were stationed throughout the Islands. Japanese guerrilla forces of over ten million were readied. Thousands of Kamikaze trained pilots, with their planes secretly hidden, were ready to strike the Allied invasion fleet. The Allied plans for the invasion have only recently been discovered at the National Archives. The invasion was to be in two parts, Operation Olympic, followed by Operation Coronet. Documents at the Archives confirm that President Truman had approved the invasion plan on June 18, 1945. It would have been the largest military operation ever undertaken.

On July 16, 1945 an atomic bomb was successfully detonated in the desert at Almagorda, New Mexico. An alternative was now available to the President. After the defeat of Germany, the Allied leaders met at Potsdam, Germany, producing the
Potsdam Proclamation on July 26, 1945. The provisions in this Proclamation were accepted by the Empire of Japan when they signed the Instrument of Surrender document. The provisions of this Proclamation by the Heads of Governments United States, China and The United Kingdom are as follows:

(1) We, the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

(2) The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

(3) The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free people of the world stand forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

(4) The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

(5) Following are our terms. We will not deviate from then. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

(6) There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

(7) Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan's war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives as we are here setting forth.

(8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

(9) The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

(10) We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for fundamental human rights shall be established.

(11) Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those industries which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

(12) The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

(13) We call upon the Government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.

The Japanese's refusal of the Allied surrender terms resulted in the August 6th and August 9th atomic bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On August 14th Japan accepted the Potsdam terms. President Truman made the decision to have the formal surrender on board the USS MISSOURI anchored in Tokyo Bay in order to emphasize to the people of Japan the dramatic nature of their capitulation.

Hostilities continued for several days because of the difficulties of communications in the Far East. The representatives of Japan flew to Manila in the Philippines to receive instructions for the formal surrender . The surrender ceremony began at 9:02 AM Sunday September 2, 1945 (Tokyo Time). The signing of both copies of the Instrument of Surrender took only twenty one minutes. By 9:58 AM General MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers had departed the USS MISSOURI.

The typed text of the Instrument of Surrender document is as follows

We, acting by command of and in behalf of the Emperor of Japan, the Japanese Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, hereby accept the provisions set forth in the declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the United States, China and Great Britain on 26 July 1945, at Potsdam, and subsequently adhered to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which four powers are hereafter referred to as the Allied Powers.

We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.

We hereby command all Japanese forces wherever situated and the Japanese people to cease hostilities forthwith, to preserve and save from damage all ships, aircraft, and military and civil property and to comply with all requirements which may be imposed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or by agencies of the Japanese Government at his direction.

We hereby command the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters to issue at once orders to the Commanders of all Japanese forces and all forces under Japanese control wherever situated to surrender unconditionally themselves and all forces under their control.

We hereby command all civil, military and naval officials to obey and enforce all proclamations, orders and directives deemed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to be proper to effectuate this surrender and issued by him or under his authority and we direct all such officials to remain at their posts and to continue to perform their non-combatant duties unless specifically relieved by him or under his authority.

We hereby undertake for the Emperor, the Japanese Government and their successors to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration in good faith, and to issue whatever orders and take whatever action may be required by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers or by any other designated representative of the Allied Powers for the purpose of giving effect to that Declaration.

We hereby command the Japanese Imperial Government and the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters at once to liberate all allied prisoners of war and civilian internees now under Japanese control and to provide for their protection, care, maintenance and immediate transportation to places as directed.

The authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate these terms of surrender

President Truman broadcast the following radio address from the White House at 10:00 PM Saturday September 1, 1945, as part of the Ceremony.


"The thoughts and hopes of all America --indeed of all the civilized world -- are centered tonight on the battleship MISSOURI. There on that small piece of American soil anchored in Tokyo Harbor the Japanese have just officially laid down their arms. They have signed terms of unconditional surrender.

Four years ago, the thoughts and fears of the whole civilized world were centered on another piece of American soil -- Pearl Harbor. The mighty threat to civilization which began there is now laid at rest. It was a long road to Tokyo -- and a bloody one.

We shall not forget Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese militarists will not forget the USS MISSOURI.

The evil done by the Japanese war lords can never be repaired or forgotten. But their power to destroy and kill has been taken from them. Their armies and what is left of their Navy are now impotent.

To all of us there comes first a sense of gratitude to Almighty God who sustained us and our Allies in the dark days of grave danger, who made us to grow from weakness into the strongest fighting force in history, and who has now seen us overcome the forces of tyranny that sought to destroy His civilization.

God grant that in our pride of the hour, we may not forget the hard tasks that are still before us; that we may approach these with the same courage zeal, and patience with which we faced the trials and problems of the past four years.

Our first thoughts, of course -- thoughts of gratefulness and deep obligation -- go out to those of our loved ones who have been killed or maimed in this terrible war. On land and sea and in the air, American men and women have given their lives so that this day of ultimate victory might come and assure the survival of a civilized world. No victory can make good their loss.

We think of those whom death in this war has hurt, taking from them fathers, husbands, sons, brothers and sisters whom they loved. No victory can bring back the faces they longed to see.

Only the knowledge that the victory, which these sacrifices have made possible, will be wisely used, can give them any comfort. It is our responsibility -- ours, the living -- to see to it that this victory shall be a monument worthy of the dead who died to win it.

We think of all the millions of men and women in our armed forces and merchant marine all over the world who, after years of sacrifice and hardship and peril, have been spared by Providence from harm.

We think of all the men and women and children who during these years have carried on at home, in lonesomeness and anxiety and fear.

Our thoughts go out to the millions of American workers and businessmen, to our farmers and miners -- to all those who have built up this country's fighting strength, and who have shipped to our Allies the means to resist and overcome the enemy.

Our thoughts go out to our civil servants and to the thousands of Americans who, at personal sacrifice, have come to serve in our Government during these trying years; to the members of the Selective Service boards and ration boards; to the civilian defense and Red Cross workers; to the men and women in the USO and in the entertainment world -- to all those who have helped in this cooperative struggle to preserve liberty and decency in the world.

We think of our departed gallant leader, Franklin D. Roosevelt, defender of democracy, architect of world peace and cooperation.

And our thoughts go out to our gallant Allies in this war; to those who resisted the invaders; to those who were not strong enough to hold out, but who, nevertheless, kept the fires of resistance alive within the souls of their people; to those who stood up against great odds and held the line, until the United Nations together were able to supply the arms and the men with which to overcome the forces of evil.

This is a victory of more than arms alone. This is a victory of liberty over tyranny.

From our war plants rolled the tanks and planes which blasted their way to the heart of our enemies; from our shipyards sprang the ships which bridged all the oceans of the world for our weapons and supplies; from our farms same the food and fiber for our armies and navies and for our Allies in all the corners of the earth; from our mines and factories came the raw materials and the finished products which gave us the equipment to overcome our enemies.

But back of it all were the will and spirit and determination of a free people -- who know what freedom is, and who know that it is worth whatever price they had to pay to preserve it.

It was the spirit of liberty which gave us our armed strength and which made our men invincible in battle. We now know that the spirit of liberty, the freedom of the individual, and the personal dignity of man, are the strongest and toughest and most enduring forces in all the world.

And so on V-J Day we take renewed faith and pride in our own way of life. We have had our day of rejoicing over this victory. We have had our day of prayer and devotion. Now let us set aside V-J Day as one of renewed consecration to the principles which have made us the strongest nation on earth and which, in this war, we have striven so mightily to preserve.

Those principles provide the faith, the hope, and the opportunity which help men to improve themselves and their lot. Liberty does not make all men perfect nor all society secure. But it has provided more solid progress and happiness and decency for more people than any other philosophy of government in history. And this day has shown again that it provides the greatest strength and the greatest power which man has ever reached.

We know that under it we can meet the hard problems of peace which have come upon us. A free people with free Allies, who can develop an atomic bomb, can use the same skill and energy and determination to overcome all the difficulties ahead.

Victory always has its burdens and its responsibilities as well as its rejoicing.

But we face the future and all its dangers with great confidence and great hope. America can build for itself a future of employment and security. Together with the United Nations, it can build a world of peace founded on justice, fair dealing and tolerance.

As President of the United States, I proclaim Sunday, September the second, 1945, to be V-J Day -- the day of formal surrender by Japan. It is not yet the day for the formal proclamation of the end of the war nor of the cessation of hostilities. But it is a day which we Americans shall always remember as a day of retribution -- as we remember that other day, the day of infamy.

From this day we move forward. We move toward a new era of security at home. With the other United Nations we move toward a new and better world of cooperation, of peace and international good will and cooperation.

God's help has brought us to this day of victory. With His help we will attain that peace and prosperity for ourselves and all the world in the years ahead."