NEW YORK - This week marks the 75th anniversary of one of the biggest events in history-- the end of World War II. On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered to the United States, ending the conflict, a moment in time that got to be witnessed first hand by sailors aboard the U.S.S. Missouri on that fateful day.
“We saw the Japanese delegation come aboard, they were all dressed in formal and they presented their papers,” said New York native Edward Greenfield. Greenfield was one of those sailors who was an eyewitness to a moment in history. “We had been through the whole war, the ups and the downs, and this was the climax.”
The 97-year-old reflected on his time as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He learned Japanese and worked as a translator. This week he was honored virtually during a commemoration ceremony at Pearl Harbor.
After the surrender, Greenfield was stationed in Japan for about a year during the U.S. occupation. He also spent time working on a Japanese musical. Later, Greenfield returned to the states, graduated from Harvard Law School, and served as a New York State Supreme Court judge for 30 years. It was a role he recalls as being challenging, yet unforgettable.
“It was the best time of my life, apart from the day of the surrender,” he said.
Greenfield never forgot his time in the war and still remembers some Japanese. He sang a song for us about sake and beer.
Greenfield has been married to his wife Nancy for 60 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Despite all he’s accomplished, Greenfield remains modest and humble. This is his message to future generations.
“It’s very important for people of different backgrounds and nationalities to try to come together, unfortunately, we did it solely through a war with casualties, people killed, cities wiped out," Greenfield said.
Greenfield hopes it doesn’t take another major war for peace to prevail.