This Saturday marks Victory in the Pacific day and the official end to World War II.
Recognising the 75th anniversary of this momentous event in Australian and world history is important; and will be made much harder in 2020 because of the pandemic.
But that does not alter the fact that we are all able to lead the lives we do because of the men and women who served, fought and died in that conflict.
When the Japanese surrendered on August 14 there was celebration and relief that years of war had ended – but there was also the sense of sorrow and grief for the families whose loved ones would not be coming home.
Between September 1, 1939 and August 14, 1945, Australia would lose 39,655 men and women in all branches of the service.
Our servicemen and women fought in campaigns against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as against Japan in south-east Asia and other parts of the Pacific. The Australian mainland came under direct attack for the first time, as Japanese aircraft bombed towns in north-west Australia and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney Harbor.
Signing the surrender documents in the Bay of Tokyo ended World War II, but Australians were still dying even as the ink was drying on the surrender.
From people killed in Japan as part of the Commonwealth Occupation Force through Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia and, now, Afghanistan and Iraq, Australian military personnel keep serving where needed.
Today there are just 12,000 World War II veterans still with us – from the one million plus Australians who served.
So I urge you all to take a moment on Saturday; to reflect on what these people gave us as their legacy and say “thanks for your service to both those remaining and those who have passed”.
“Like our other major services – Anzac Day and Remembrance Day – this sacrifice and this anniversary represent the 100,000-plus Australians who have died in wars around the world in the past 135 years and their families; and we honour them as well.”