Seventy-five years after World War II ended, veterans and dignitaries have paid their respect to the one million Australians who fought for their country.
Seventy-five years after World War II ended, veterans and dignitaries have paid their respect to the one million Australians who fought for their country.

‘Last of a great generation’ honoured

The "last of a great generation" and Australians across the country have paid their respects on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Veterans and dignitaries, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, commemorated Victory in the Pacific Day in a closed, socially distanced ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on Saturday morning.

It was 75 years earlier, on August 15 of 1945, that Emperor Hirohito publicly announced Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms and his country's surrender.

Three months prior, Nazi Germany had surrendered to the Allies.

The date became the marker for the end of the six-year-long second world war.

One million Australians donned the nation's uniform throughout that time.

Mr Morrison addressed the small crowd in Aircraft Hall and the millions of Australians watching at home, thanking the veterans for their sacrifice and honouring them as the generation that saved the world.

Mr Morrison drew comparison between their global fight against tyranny with the global fight against COVID-19.

"All understood if tyranny was not confronted together, it would be confronted alone. It was true then, and it's true today," he said.

"One million Australians wore our uniform and made the silent promise to give their lives for our country if need be.

"They promised their tomorrows for our today."

Victory in the Pacific Day celebrations in Sydney in 1945. Picture: Australian War Memorial
Victory in the Pacific Day celebrations in Sydney in 1945. Picture: Australian War Memorial

Speaking directly to three veterans in the front row, Mr Morrison said "you didn't give it a second thought".

"You were boys who helped free a world and became great men," he said.

"You did all this with your nation behind you and always on your mind.

"In your sunset we honour you, we honour your generation. In my mind, you are Australia's greatest generation.

"We thank you. You won a war, secured peace, and saved civilisation. Your deeds will never be forgotten.

"We pledge to always be a good country. To always be as courageous as you."

Thousands gathered at Martin Place in Sydney to celebrate the end of the war. Picture: Australian War Memorial
Thousands gathered at Martin Place in Sydney to celebrate the end of the war. Picture: Australian War Memorial

Mr Morrison said the city of Darwin was on his mind, as he reflected on the long road to forgiveness in the Australian city that was most impacted by the war.

Australian Defence Force Chief General Angus Taylor took the opportunity to pay respect to two of Australia's most distinguished veterans, Edward 'Teddy' Sheean - who was this week posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross - and third officer Ruby Rose.

"The entire country answered that call back then," he said.

"Today, we remember and honour them."

Australian forces had been on campaigns across the Pacific - in New Guinea, Bougainville, New Britain, Borneo and the Philippines - and Australian prisoners of the Japanese were scattered throughout Asia.

The Australian War Memorial recognises that while there were "many contributors to Japan's defeat, the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, brought the conflict to a sudden end".

Originally published as 'Last of a great generation' honoured



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