Australians are turning out in numbers to ceremonies across the nation to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific.
VP Day marks Japan’s surrender and the Allied victory in the Pacific but more importantly, signals the end of the WWII on August 15, 1945.
Over one million Australian contributed to the war effort, with another 500,000 serving overseas.
But while Australians were commemorated today for their “sacrifice, bravery, comradeship and all those qualities that define us as Australians”, it was also period of deep remorse.
Almost 40,000 Australians died, 30,000 suffered as prisoners of war, and another 100,000 were wounded in combat.
“Born in the aftermath of the war that was, growing up through the Great Depression and coming to adulthood under the shadows of the war that was coming, they mobilised to defend our nation, its values and vital interests,” said Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson.
“Their Australia is one to which we should recommit ourselves, an Australia that enshrines principle above position and values before value.”
— Dani Le Messurier (@danilemess) August 15, 2015
VP Day 70th Anniversary in Ipswich. Lest we forget. pic.twitter.com/zG8iMZuSIz
— Shayne Neumann (@ShayneNeumannMP) August 15, 2015
— David Hodgett MP (@DavidHodgettMP) August 15, 2015
— Governor of Victoria (@Governor_Vic) August 15, 2015
Nelson’s comments came shortly after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his regret over Japanese wartime aggression during WWII.
“Japan has repeatedly expressed feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war … we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war,” said Abe.
While Abe acknowledged the “unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military”, he added that future generations of the pacifist country who have nothing to do with that war should not “be predestined to apologise”.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott also gave his salute to those who had supported the war effort today during the commemorative service in Adelaide which saw over 700 people.
“I salute all of you who won the war and built the peace — every other one of us are your beneficiaries,” he said.
“On VP Day, as soon as victory was announced, Australians quite literally dropped everything and spontaneously flocked into the streets. Church bells peeled, flags waived, bonfires blazed and a party began.
“So today, in awe and in gratitude, we honour a generation of Australians who helped turn the tide of history.
“You fought in the air and on the sea, in the jungle and in the desert. You fought to defend our country against fascism, Nazism and militarism.
“You fought against evils that sought to destroy human decency and you fought to build a lasting peace.”
The Queen is expected to lead commemorations for the VP Day ceremony in London.
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