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Radio Address to the Nation on the 40th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in the Pacific

August 10, 1985

My fellow Americans:

In a few days, we'll be commemorating V-J Day, the 40th anniversary of the end of the war in the Pacific, which brought to a close the most destructive and widespread conflagration in the history of mankind. Over 3 million American airmen, soldiers, sailors, and marines served in the Pacific and Asian theaters between 1941-1945. They endured some of the most savage combat of the war, from the frozen Aleutian Islands in the north to the jungles of Guadalcanal and the volcanic sands of Iwo Jima.

Our fighting forces came back from the defeat at Pearl Harbor and slugged their way across the Pacific, island by island. General Douglas MacArthur wrote of the American fighting man in the Pacific: "He plods and groans, sweats and toils. He growls and curses. And at the end, he dies, unknown, uncomplaining, with faith in his heart, and on his lips, a prayer for victory." Well, the victory was won, and our freedom and way of life were preserved because of the courage and honor of those who put their lives on the line four decades ago.

The Americans who went through this ordeal of storm and sacrifice, just as their counterparts who battled our enemies in Europe, deserve a special place in the hearts of all those who love liberty. Vice President Bush might be a little embarrassed if he knew I was going to say this, but he's one of those Americans I'm talking about. As a young fighter pilot in the Pacific, his plane was shot down on a military mission. He came perilously close to losing his life. If you know any veterans of the Second World War, you might take the time on August 14th to thank them. There are so many heroes among us, and I'm sure they'd like to know how much we appreciate them.

The veterans of the Pacific war should take special pride that today the Pacific rim is blessed with stability and bustling with enterprise and commerce. The hard-fought battles of the Pacific laid the foundation for what is becoming one of the most vibrant regions of the world. The devastation and rubble of the war have given way to great centers of human progress, futuristic metropolises with vast industrial complexes, modernistic transportation systems, and impressive institutions of culture and learning.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Japan, now a close and reliable friend and one of our most important allies. In these last 40 years, the Japanese have transformed bombed-out ruins into a great industrial nation. With few natural resources of their own, they now produce over 10 percent of all the world's goods and services. They've accomplished this economic miracle with hard work, free enterprise, and low tax rates. The Japanese are today in so many ways our partners in peace and enterprise. Our economic ties are a great boon to both our peoples. Our good will and cooperation will be maintained by a mutually beneficial trading relationship based on free trade and open markets on both sides of the Pacific.

The great strides forward being made in the Pacific rim bode well for the United States. We are, after all, a Pacific rim country. Already our trade with Pacific and East Asian countries is greater than with any other region of the world. We can look forward to the future with anticipation of a better tomorrow. The people of our country will be in the forefront of the economic renaissance of the Pacific.

Liberty not only spawns progress, but it is the genesis of true peace as well. As free peoples, it is unthinkable that the Japanese and Americans will ever again go to war. Where there are differences, as there are in the relations of any two great nations, they can be settled in the spirit of good will.

Those brave Americans who fought in the Pacific four decades ago were fighting for a better world. They believed in America and often they gave the last full measure of devotion. One such man was Marine Lieutenant David Tucker Brown from Alexandria, Virginia. While in the Pacific, he wrote home: "I am more than ever convinced that this is Thomas Jefferson's war, the war of the common man against tyranny and pride. It is really a war for democracy and not for power or materialism." Well, Lieutenant Brown was later killed in action in Okinawa, one of so many brave and courageous young Americans who made the supreme sacrifice.

I think if those brave men were with us today they'd be proud of what has been accomplished. At war's end, with victory in hand, we looked forward, not back. We lived up to our ideals, the ideals of heroes like Lieutenant David Tucker Brown. And we worked with our former enemies to build a new and better world, a world of freedom and opportunity. That's the America we're all so proud of.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on the 40th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in the Pacific Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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