When Japanese military leaders climbed aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, the battleship was packed with US sailors eager to see the end of World War II.
On Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the surrender, some of those same men weren't able to return to the Missouri in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor because of the world's new war against coronavirus.
The commemoration initially was supposed to be a blockbuster with parades, movie premieres, galas and thousands honouring the veterans in their 90s or beyond, some who may be marking the milestone for the last time.
Because of the threat of the virus, the ceremony was scaled down to about 50 people, with local veterans and officials gathering on the USS Missouri in masks.
The names were read of surviving WWII veterans, including 14 on the ship the day the Japanese surrendered.
Jerry Pedersen, 95, was one, watching history unfold as a young Marine.
He and his comrades who live in the mainland US had to watch a livestream of the ceremony from home instead of on the decks of the battleship.
"Well, I was very disappointed, yes. I was hoping to maybe see a friend or two," he said.
"I just want to share with at least my family and a couple of other folks some of the feelings that I was going to express when I got there."
Those feelings are complicated, said Pedersen, who dedicated his life to peace after the war ended.
"War must not happen again," he said, recalling the words uttered by General Douglas MacArthur the day Japan surrendered.
But "we're still oscillating on many of the things that are necessary to bring us peace".
Pedersen wore a blue Marine uniform recently sent to him for the ceremony as he watched the event from a laptop at his son's house in West Sacramento, California.
His three adult children, their spouses and some grandchildren gathered around the computer, clapping and hooting when his name was called. Pedersen smiled and gave a fist pump.
"For me, it was the end of the killing, the war that had taken millions of soldiers and many, many, many millions of civilians in wars in Europe and finally in the Pacific that came to an end that day.
"And we were celebrating.
"I had the feeling that day. I made a pact with myself that I'm going to be a peacemaker in my life," said Pedersen, who went to college after the war, got his doctorate and became a minister.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was honoured to "commemorate and reflect on the sacrifices and victories of our service members and allies who helped fight for and secure peace".
The US entered the war after Japanese warplanes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Thousands of service members were killed and wounded, about half of them dying on the USS Arizona, which still sits submerged in Pearl Harbor next to the USS Missouri Memorial, a floating museum.