A message from the Governor on the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific
First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which I am standing, and I pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
Wednesday, 15 August 1945, saw a grey and chilly winter’s day dawning in Melbourne.
That morning, Victorians, whether at home or at work, were waiting … hoping to learn of the Japanese surrender in the Pacific.
In the event, it came earlier than anticipated when – at 9.30am – Prime Minister Chifley made the announcement Australians had yearned for:
‘Fellow citizens, the war is over’.
Many of us today have no direct recollection of that morning. Nor of the hard years that had preceded it.
No direct recollection of the deep sadness that rippled through communities with loved ones lost, injured or held as Prisoners of War. No recollection of the fear, with battles on our doorstep, and enemy bombings on our home soil. Nor of the sacrifices – including by those at home.
Many of us can only imagine the emotions of that August morning. Elation that the war was finally ending, but enduring heartache for the heavy cost.
Three-quarters of a century has now passed. But the significance of 15 August 1945 still resonates with us.
We are still in awe of the courage of those who served, and we still grieve for those who did not return or have carried the heavy burden of their injury or imprisonment. And we appreciate what they fought for – the ideals and the protections.
Across the decades, of course, much has changed. But our values have not. This difficult year has shown us that in the sharpest possible focus.
Our Australian Defence Force has - in a different context - shown us what grit, commitment, care and service look like, as they have stepped up here at home in the bushfires and the pandemic - wherever and however they have been asked to serve.
When we see them in action here, we know that the values that their forbears fought for are certainly not consigned to history. And we know that, when we look to the most important group amongst us on this anniversary.
Although, naturally, it is a source of sadness that we cannot gather together today, we feel a particular sadness that we cannot be with that now small group of courageous men and women who, unlike the many of us, were indeed a part of what we reflect upon. Those who served in WW2. Who sacrificed for us.
My last words today are reserved for you.
We thank you. We hope you feel proud of what you have done for us. We hope that, in turn, in our values and in our actions, we can make you feel proud of us. And please know that we have learned from your example and we will remember.