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Australians Mark 60th Anniversary of End of WWII

Large scale of commemorative activities marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific region were held across Australia Sunday, with the theme to be "Salute to Veterans."


VP Day commemorations were marked in the capital city of Canberra by a massive series of aerial displays and other activities which capture the history and recreate the atmosphere of the era, such as 1940s dance performances, historical broadcasts, military bands and special exhibitions.


Sunday's activities culminated in fly pass of aircraft in the evening, when thousands of war veterans and ordinary people gathering around Lake Burley Griffin witnessed the largest air pageant seen in any Australian city.


The air pageant also featured a maneuver of Navy and Army special forces with helicopter, parachute and water insertion of troops who designated a target for an air strike.


This was followed by firework spectacular before the pageant ended when an F-111 flied over, undertaking a dump and burn and leaving a trail of flame as it disappeared into the night sky.


Australian Minister for Veterans' Affairs said in a statement that the commemorative event, Salute to Veterans, is the largest single event of its kind to "recognize our veterans and is the centerpiece of VP Day activities occurring in State capitals and local communities across the nation."


An ecumenical church service was held Sunday morning, at which Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kim Beazley both gave gospel readings.


A special reception was held for some of WWII veterans in the Great Hall of Parliament House here Saturday.


An official commemorative ceremony will be held at the Australian War Memorial here Monday, the actual anniversary.


At a ceremony to mark VP Day in Sydney on Sunday, Australia's largest city, Australian Governor-General Michael Jeffery urged Australians to say thank you to those who served in World War II by excelling in all fields of endeavor.


He said the best way to pay tribute to the war veterans was to seize the opportunities available to the nation and its people.


Hundreds of veterans, war widows and locals gathered for the ceremony and to watch 12 doves be released.


Meanwhile, a commemorative service was held in Brisbane, capital city of the state of Queensland, where Douglas MacArthur, who was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the South-West Pacific Area during WWII, made his headquarters.


Speaking at the ceremony, the veterans' affairs minister said it was important to remember Brisbane's historic role in achieving victory in the Pacific in 1945, adding although Brisbane never came under direct attack, the risk of attack on the allied headquarters and the city was always there.


The service was also marked by a WWII aircraft flyover and the laying of wreaths.


It was reported that some 1 million Australians served during WWII, almost 40,000 lost their lives and more than 30,000 were taken prisoners. About 17,000 WWII veterans are still alive.


(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2005)

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