Surrender on the USS Missouri

1945 | War in Pacific

THE FILM: Narrated by Country Music’s number one recording star, Luke Bryan.

On September 2nd, 1945, World War II came to its official end aboard a legendary battleship anchored in Tokyo Bay. Some seventy million people had died during the war, but now the fighting would end not with a rifle shot but rather with the swift stroke of a ceremonial pen.

The USS Missouri hadn’t been in the fight long, heading into the Pacific theater of war in 1944, but she would become one of the most famous military ships in history when all was said and done.

“Mighty Mo” had been involved in the vicious fight at Iwo Jima and then headed for Okinawa, where she dodged suicidal Kamikaze air attacks during World War II’s last great battle.

Missouri then would bomb Japan before being told to leave the coast for no apparent reason. The reason turned out to be two Atomic bombs that were set to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The official surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri would attract a world-wide radio audience with famous Pacific commanding General Douglas MacArthur handling the Instrument of Surrender proceedings. Over 3,000 soldiers and dignitaries looked on from every inch of Missouri’s decks, including a small delegation of conquered Japanese.

World War II was finally over. Peace.

Why was the USS Missouri chosen as the ship the formal surrender would take place? President Harry S. Truman had something to do with that.

What happened immediately after the signing that left so many in complete awe? What is Mighty Mo’s legacy today at Pearl Harbor, where she rests not far from another famous battleship, the USS Arizona? Are there veterans still alive who were there to witness the Japanese surrender ending the war?

Surrender on the USS Missouri answers those questions and more.

As General MacArthur famously said at the end of the surrender ceremony: “These proceedings are now closed.” However, the story of the USS Missouri never really ended and is still being told today.


Each of our documentary films has a corresponding quiz or essay question for use in the classroom by teachers and educators.

We encourage you to choose one of the PDFs below that is the best match for your students. It’s up to each educator if you would like to offer either the exam or the one-question essay. An answer sheet corresponds with each quiz.  Our goal is not to overwhelm students with dates, treaties, and strategies. Instead, we would rather focus their attention on the individual stories of the subjects of our documentaries. We find these visual stories to be inspiring, impactful, and educational.

We hope that after viewing one of our films, students will want to learn more about the personal stories of the World War II generation. Maybe they do this by reading a book, watching another documentary, or perhaps a full-length film.  Maybe our films will inspire your students to ask an older family member about their role, or inquire about another relative’s story, in World War II.

We recommend the below curriculum for grades 7-12 and college.


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