1945: a new world of peace
By BELINDA SCOTT
SIXTY years ago today, Australians woke to a new world of peace.
Ceremonies around the nation yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day and the end of World War II.
More than 300 people, most of them elderly, gathered around Coffs Harbour's Cenotaph in warm winter sunshine under snapping flags to listen to the familiar hymns and music of military ceremonial and to watch the dedication of Coffs Harbour's new Memorial Wall.
Guest speaker, World War II veteran Paul Banford reminded listeners that while we may use one day as an anniversary, the end of wars, like their beginning, are messy affairs.
Mr Banford quoted an account of the war's end by a Malaysian Chinese writer, who saw Australian POWs in Borneo being shot days after their captors knew the war was over.
Another WWII soldier later talked of fighting Japanese soldiers in Indonesian jungles years after hostilities had ended officially.
The president of the Coffs Harbour RSL Sub-branch, Jeff Porter, said the Memorial Wall would be a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by the soldiers of this district.
He also paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who had helped to raise funds for, and had worked on, the project.
A double wall of grey bricks, highly polished on one side, the Memorial Wall will have a bronze version of the World War I honour roll and individual plaques for World War II veterans fixed to it when work is completed.
The member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, said WWII had fundamentally determined how Australia was today and its outcomes had a direct correlation to how Australia viewed the world and how the world viewed Australia.
He said the Memorial Wall was a magnificent way to recognise our war dead and a fitting tribute and record.
He said the escalation of international terrorism reminded us of the threats endured by past generations in maintaining the democracy we treasure; our civil liberties, our right to free speech and our family values and also showed that we cannot isolate ourselves and ignore our responsibilities.