“It is my earnest hope — indeed the hope of all mankind — that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice.” — Douglas MacArthur
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At 9:08 a.m. on September 2, 1945, on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, which was anchored in Tokyo Bay, US General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s surrender from a delegation representing Emperor Hirohito.
With that, World War II was over. It was the most widespread war in history, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. Over 70 million combined military and civilian lives were lost.
Along with 16 million of their fellow Americans, thousands of men and women from Cape Ann served our country during the Second World War. More than 5,600 of the roughly 25,000 residents from Gloucester alone joined the conflict, serving in every branch of the military.
Of those, 119 never made it home.
As we once again pause to recognize the selfless service of so many, we have to acknowledge that fewer and fewer of our “Greatest Generation” remain among us. Their actions, their history, and their stories are an integral part of who we are as a nation.
Though we continue to see hostilities around the world, with men and women stepping up to serve our nation, it is unlikely that we will ever see such an epic, world-wide conflict again.
My goal has been to photograph our local veterans to honor and recognize their service to our country — and preserve their place in our history.
These are ordinary men and women who were called upon, at times, to do extraordinary things.
Jason Grow, a Gloucester-based commercial photographer, began his Cape Ann World War II Veterans Portrait Project in 2014. It was originally exhibited at Gloucester City Hall on Veterans Day 2015. See the entire portfolio here.