COONAWARRA and Penola Returned Services League (RSL) sub-branch members will unite this weekend to commemorate the end of World War II.
Today will mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day, which commemorates Japan’s acceptance of the allied demand for unconditional surrender.
For Australians that meant the war was over with many soldiers rejoicing at the thought of returning home.
Penola’s only living World War II veteran Roen Lynn said it was a critical date to remember.
“It is important to know your past in order to know yourself and where you come from,” Mr Lynn said.
“Victory Day was so long ago and I think it may have lost its importance but we still need to remember and we need to know that when things go wrong between nations it leads to disaster.”
The Australian air force veteran reflected on his time during Victory Day in 1945 where he was stationed at Papua New Guinea near the Dutch-controlled border.
“I remember the day the war ended quite vividly, it was night time and I was in New Guinea where I was on duty,” he said.
“I was sitting by the radio and turning dials to see if I could pick up some music which is where I heard the war had ended.
“We were all very excited at the news. I was only 20 years old at the time.”
Mr Lynn said transport planes slowly trickled into his station and it was not long before he realised he was the only Australian left.
“Once I realised it was just me I jumped on the next plane home,” he said.
Penola Coonawarra RSL president Peter De Garis said Victory Day remained an important date for veterans due to the significant number of soldiers who lived within the district.
“There was such a huge loss of life throughout the war and at the ending of the war with both military and civilian which is worth reflecting on because it is important to learn from our history,” Mr De Garis said.
“It is also important for the younger generation to recognise the importance of the day because we never want it to happen again.”
The day will be commemorated similar to this year’s Anzac Day, with RSL members hosting a private memorial at Penola War Memorial Park.
Attendees will lay wreaths and pause for a moment of reflection.
Members of the public are encouraged to attend on their own throughout the day to mark the occasion.