I join President Obama and the American people in reflecting on today’s 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific theater.
As we recall the war’s devastating toll and mourn those lost on all sides, we also remember the gallantry of our American men and women in uniform who, alongside their allied partners, courageously served in combat across the Pacific Ocean and Asian continent. We are humbled by their heroism, and we owe them our unending gratitude. We also honor and respect the sacrifices made by the citizens of so many nations during the war.
Last year I visited two sites of great significance to today’s anniversary. The first was the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, where I had an opportunity to scatter rose petals into the water and recall the moment that brought the United States into the Pacific theater. The second was the American Guadalcanal Memorial in the Solomon Islands, where we remembered the storied deeds of the U.S. Marines’ First Division. Both locations stand to this day as silent witnesses to the bravery that imbued the conflict.
Over the past seven decades, the United States has been a proud partner in the Asia-Pacific region’s astonishing rise from the devastation of war. The “Asian miracle” has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and created an engine for global economic growth. Meanwhile, the expansion of democracy has enabled people to exercise fundamental freedoms and the right to shape their political destinies.
Today we also reflect on the remarkable transformation of our relationship with Japan, from wartime adversaries to stalwart friends and allies. Our enduring partnership testifies to the power of reconciliation and draws strength from a shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The United States will continue to deepen its active engagement in the region as a resident Pacific nation, working with allies and partners to strengthen the institutions, networks, rules, and good practices that promote stability and prosperity.
The memory of World War II will continue to inspire us as we seek to build for future generations a lasting architecture of peace.