Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Memorable evening on the Missouri

The USS Missouri undergoing refitting at the Long Beach
Naval Shipyard in 1985. (U.S. Navy photo)

Reader Mary Barton of Long Beach wrote to share the following memory with us:

One of the most memorable evenings of my life occurred on the deck of a Navy ship at the Port of Long Beach.

Both my parents were in the South Pacific during World War II -- my mother, Hazel Barton, as an Army nurse stationed at various island field hospitals, and my father, Patrick Barton, as a member of the Signal Corps. Thus, as a small child born just after the War, my earliest memories are of my parents' war stories -- some grisly but all quite compelling.  No doubt those vivid stories prompted my lifelong interest in Japan and her people.

So, when the U.S.S. Missouri was docked at the L.B. Naval Station in the early 1990's on one of her last voyages, I was thrilled to be part of a private group who toured her decks.  I was mesmerized at the spot where Gen. MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender -- only a few feet from the turret of a large anti-aircraft gun. I recalled the newsreels of that signing, with the Japanese in coats and tails and MacArthur in his fatigues. A fitting ending to a horrific war.

But the incredible irony of the event was this: My companions that evening were mostly Japanese!  As a member of a unique study group of some locals and some Japanese expatriate executives, we met monthly for dinner at interesting places. Together some 40+ years after the surrender, we wandered the very site of that surrender, which ultimately made our friendship possible.  I'll never forget them nor that evening on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri.

No comments: