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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
What does VJ/VE Day mean to you?
Poppies
The 60th anniversary of the end of World War II is being commemorated at a series of events across the UK.

The Queen and political leaders will join thousands of veterans who fought for Britain on the battlefield and at home in a Service of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey on Sunday.

National Commemoration Day marks the symbolic day between VE Day and VJ Day, which saw Japan's surrender after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What are your memories of the end of the war? What do you think has been learnt from the sacrifices made 60 years ago? How did the war shape today's world?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

There are no words that describe what seeing the faces of veterans does to one's heart. One can only say: "Thank you".
TD, Gloucestershire, UK

I am only 31, but my parents adopted me, they were both of a generation that had lived through the war. They are now both dead. My late father fought in Normandy and Arnhem amongst other places, before being sent to Palestine. My father never forgot the mates who didn't come home, or the sights he saw. That generation gave up nearly six years of their young lives for the freedom we have today, because in comparison to what they endured, we are free. You listen to someone you love screaming in their sleep because of what they've seen and then you tell me we should forget and move on. Believe me, you won't be able to do it.
Tracy Hodgkins, Worcester, UK

My friend and I were evacuated to Doncaster, we used to hear the reports of the bombing on the radio. We decided that we did not want to be orphans so wrote for our parents to bring us home. We were just pulling into a London main line station when the siren went and we had to stop outside the station. We survived the bombing, the V1s and V2s but we did owe a debt of gratitude to the people that kindly took us into their homes.
Rose Howard, Milton Keynes

For those who are too young to remember them, like myself, they are a symbol. That hate need not triumph, if good men are prepared to resist.
Sean, UK

If the Axis powers had prevailed it's almost beyond comprehension what sort of world we would have now
Clive, Milwaukee, USA
These days are so very important for all peoples everywhere. If the Axis powers had prevailed it's almost beyond comprehension what sort of world we would have now. Certainly those like Katherine Barnard would not be enjoying the opportunity to express her selfish, ill-informed views on this forum. Hopefully, one day, we will celebrate VGT (Global Terrorism), VA (AIDS) and VP (Poverty) days too. This is the legacy we must leave for our children to aspire to.
Clive, Milwaukee, USA

I was born on the 11th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. Every year, I am reminded that August 9th marks the last time a nuclear weapon was used in an act of war. This year will be the 60th that we've been able to unleash hell on earth and refrained from doing so. This year, please join me in being thankful for that restraint and pray that August 9, 1945 will forever mark the last act of nuclear war.
Knox, Atlanta, GA, USA

I'm all for these celebrations and the pomp etc and the flypast on Sunday was spectacular but WHY was Prince Harry wearing a medal? He's never fought a military campaign and hasn't even passed out of Sandhurst yet. This is an affront to the bravery of the WW2 veterans and veterans of all campaigns.
Martyn Field, Milton Keynes, UK

Freedom is a precious gift, we should never forget those that fought for it
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth
My father and grandfather both fought in France then Germany, my grandfather was also at Dunkirk. My other grandfather was a sailor. My mother worked in a munitions factory in Derby and was bombed there twice. The stories were both fascinating and horrifying. Today, I feel very strongly the effects of what they fought, and in some cases, died for. I was in the RN for 12 years, and can honestly say that the people I met there would do exactly the same as our forebears did 60 years ago. Freedom is a precious gift, we should never forget those that fought for it then, and we should not allow those freedoms to be squandered by terrorists, fear or the State.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth

I'm 27 and therefore my only relatives to have fought in the war were grandfather and great uncles. My grandfather ended up injured, lying in a crater next to a similarly-injured German soldier, their guns pointed at each other. They looked at each other for a long time before they decided to put their guns down and share a cigarette. I'll never forget how close my grandfather was to death, which would have resulted in me not being here at all! How many families were not so lucky?
Corran, Newcastle, UK

VJ and VE days have been with me all my life. My mum and dad named me after victory over Japan and Europe. I am proud of those initials and I am so proud of all those brave people who fought to keep my freedom for the 60 years that I have lived.
Victor John Essex, Derby

My Grandfather is now 88 years old. He survived capture by the Japanese at Singapore. He survived building the Burma railway, starvation and barbaric treatment by the Japanese guards. He had so many tropical diseases medical staff are astonished he is still alive. Lastly, he survived the A-bombing of Nagasaki. He doesn't think of himself as a hero, just a survivor. VJ Day is my chance to thank him for his sacrifices on behalf of all of us, especially those not yet born at the time.
Howard, London, UK

It is because so many gave their lives that we are able to live in freedom today
Jo, Berkshire
Katherine Barnard should be ashamed. It is because so many gave their lives that she and the rest of us are able to live in freedom today. My Grandfather was in the RAF during WW2, both my Grandmothers did their bit too - one drove ambulances, the other was a Land Girl, both also raising young families while their husbands were away at war. As the poem goes, "age will not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today." We should never forget.
Jo, Berkshire

We do not feel that we are celebrating victory in World War 2, rather that we are honouring the countless millions around the world who sacrificed their lives and showed extreme bravery in defining the world we live in now. As the world changes and we sadly lose the last of the generation who lived through the war, it becomes more important to remember the sacrifices made. It is ignorant to think that the events of 60 years ago should not be marked and have not left a lasting mark on the present.
Ben & Michelle, Leicestershire, UK

Can anyone explain why we can't celebrate VE day and VJ day on their actual dates? What point is there in replacing two relevant days of celebration with a single "symbolic" one?
Robin, UK

My father, Robert Edwards, is 86. He is a Dunkirk Veteran. He was a desert rat and a D-Day dodger, as they say, but he fought while others didn't. He passionately remembers the fact that his friends were blown up in front of him and the chaos that was all around him. He does not like to talk about it because it was too horrific. But he says the young should be educated against war. I would like to think that he would get some sort of thank you for all his and his colleagues' efforts and lives. But no, they do not even get help with their pensions.
Glyni, Mile Oak, Sussex

We shouldn't forget for some who survived it didn't mean they could go home
Mark, Loughborough
It's good to see us celebrate the end of the Second World War. But we shouldn't forget for some who survived it didn't mean they could go home. My father, who is at horse guards today, fought from day one. He never saw his father again and had to make a new home in this country after being badly let down by the allies at Yalta.
Mark, Loughborough

Both VE Day and VJ Day mean something to me - however, 10 July does not. It is a date used for convenience, as far as I can see. I think it is a great shame that the victories were not commemorated on the right days.
Linda, England

I served with the RAF for 14 years - I volunteered, I wasn't conscripted. Whilst I hold the greatest respect for those who served in the two World Wars and other conflicts, I feel it is time for us as a nation to move forward and not continually keep harkening back to the past. World War Two finished 60 years ago - let us lay it to rest and look forward to the future.
Jon, Belper, Derbyshire

I was lucky to have been able to listen at the knee of both my grandfather and father about the horrors and the comradeship of both World Wars. To those who say we should move on and leave the past behind, I would ask them to visit a war cemetery and pick any row, perhaps choose your birthday and see how many young men laid down their tomorrows on that one day for the freedoms you enjoy every day. I was very moved by today's celebrations. Seeing the Queen in an open top car so soon after the London bombings seemed to pay tribute to all those who died. Those who want to take away our way of life will not prevail.
Vanessa Gregory, St Albans, Herts

We should glorify those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedom of others
Ben Littlechild, Cambridge
The past should never be forgotten, there are people out there that believe we should let the history of our darkest days, and yet at the same time our finest hours, fade into the twilight of history. Although I would probably be called warmongering by some, I believe that we should glorify those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedom of others, We should know the names of these people and remember that they gave their futures for our todays. Never let the names of these people be forgotten and never let the British lose their sense of pride in what our people can achieve in adversity!
Ben Littlechild, Cambridge

My Granddad died as a result of injuries received during the war. Because he died shortly after the war and not during it he, along with thousands of others, has never been recognised as an official casualty. My Gran tried repeatedly to have his name added to their local war memorial but all her efforts were in vain. Is it not time that these forgotten heroes were finally recognised?
Phil Jenkins, Gloucester

What a most spectacular display and memorial service put on once again by the Beeb. Although I am a sun worshipper, I was riveted to my seat and was overwhelmed by this unforgettable piece of history that also had my children on the edge of their seats. What a fantastic day and memory of those who thought and those who lost their lives during the war.
Jame Cullen, London

So many wonderful stories about WWII pilots, but I would like to mention just one. When I was a teenager and the V1 bombs were being aimed at London, we were living near the top of Barn Hill, Wembley Park. On a warm sunny Sunday morning I heard loud aircraft engines, looked out of my bedroom window to see a V1 flying very low and a Hurricane firing his machine guns while attempting to use his wing to flip the bomb so that it might land in open ground. The Hurricane pilot eventually managed to bring down the bomb which landed near a school. Fortunately, being a Sunday, nobody was hurt - but the pilot visited the school next day to apologise!
Gerald Kushler, London

I find it inspiring to learn from the example of that great generation
Amy, Northumberland, UK
I am 27 years old, and VE/VJ Day are very important to me, as a time to remember the almost unimaginable sacrifices that so many people made for all of us. If it weren't for the country marking events like this, as a young person I would have no awareness of how important the War was, and how we must strive to ensure it doesn't happen again. I felt so very proud today. I particularly liked the Royal British Legion's campaign to get people to send thank you messages on flags which were hung in Trafalgar Square. What a wonderful way to show tangible gratitude to the veterans. As I prepare to join the Army myself, I find it inspiring to learn from the example of that great generation.
Amy, Northumberland, UK

VE and VJ Days should have been celebrated separately. with a national day of commutation after VJ day. Many European countries and the Channel Islands celebrate 'Liberation' days as public holidays. Maybe September 3rd should have been the Commemoration Day and held annually.
Darren, York Yorkshire

What a shame that the Sikhs and their regiments were forgotten on such a day and were not asked to participate. I am a proud British Sikh. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers have great stories to tell of the courage that was needed to return home. Many of them won the Victoria Cross and other prestigious awards. We must carry on celebrating the sacrifices made as we live in this free society today.
Manjit Kaur Nahahl

I was seven when the war started. I lived in Leyton, East London. My father was in the RAF. My mother and I spent the blitz in what is now the Central line in the tunnel that was then under construction. What have we learnt? Nothing, the world is just as screwed up, thanks to the politicians and their oversized egos.
Peter J. Dolder, Pinetop, AZ, USA

I watched with admiration and respect today as war veterans celebrated their victory all those years ago, and as they remembered the great suffering of many thousands who were POW or who lost their lives in those great struggles. I feel honoured and privileged to have watched events today, and have no words to express the gratitude I have for what these wonderful people did for all of us. The free life I lead is a result of the sacrifices they all made. Thank you.
Angela, Scotland

My father came home two months after VE Day. I was seven and could not remember what he looked like except from photos. He seemed a huge man to me in his army greatcoat. Six months later, my uncle came home and I recall my cousins wondering why he was so small and thin. He had survived captivity in the Far East.
Ken, England

Let's not forget these men didn't volunteer, they were called up
Yvonne, Liverpool, UK
My father was in India (the forgotten Army) I salute all people who fought for us in WWII. Let's not forget these men didn't volunteer, they were called up. As my father said, you were a boy when you went in and a man when you came out. Wouldn't harm some of today's teenagers to sign up either. I was born in 1957. God bless you all.
Yvonne, Liverpool, UK

Brilliant coverage. Let the younger generation know that they can still help and remember what our forces gave and still give in their name by joining associations like the Royal Air Forces Association and the Royal British Legion. In that way we will remember them.
Steve Mullis, Malaga, Spain

It is a shame that successive governments did not recognise that ultimate sacrifices given by so many soldiers during WWII. Disbanding the regiments they served in is disgraceful and clearly underlines what is more important to politicians - money. The Scottish Regiments are being disbanded on 30 November - St Andrews Day - what better way to insult both veterans and any true Scot by disbanding them on our national day.
Jeff Duncan, Dundee

What other country would allow its Head of State to drive, in an open car, down a main road in a city that had been rocked by terrorist bombs three days before? The British and her leaders really are wonderful!
Eileen, Suffolk, UK

The commemoration today had filled in gaps left in previous years
Nathan P Bridle, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
The commemoration today had filled in gaps left in previous years, remembering those who not only died in the war, but those that were maimed, mentally scarred and not only that but remembering the war all their lives. HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip added to the day no end, remember that they were around than and both made huge contributions. We owe a lot to those that died, that lived and those of all allied nations.
Nathan P Bridle, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

A year ago today, my mother died, her name was Joan Bradley, a former WREN who served in UK and South Africa during the war. I know that she would have been watching and remembering her many friends who also served their country, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I and my children and their children will forever be in debt to the generation who gave so much for us all.
Susanna Bradley, Alton in Hants

Watching today has been very moving, our great nation remembering the veterans and dead and showing true British solidarity to the world in this horrific week. Makes me so proud of our country and its people past and present.
Helen, Nottingham

I was born 17 years after the war ended. My father was a navigator with the RAF. I will honour those who fought and remember those who died today because he is no longer alive to do so. And because I am grateful to those who gave their lives so I can enjoy the life I have today. Where exactly does Katherine Barnard think she would be without them? Having said that, I look at the society we have today and wonder if some of the veterans think their friends' sacrifice was worth it.
Sally, Lincs

I think war is futile and a big business. But WW II was different
Andy Mullen, Athens, Greece
I was born in 1955. 10 years after the end of WW II. I live in Athens, Greece and go to the war graves cemetery every year in November to show my respect for the teenage heroes who gave their todays for our tomorrows. I shed a tear every time, as I walk between the gravestones and see the ages of the dead or inscriptions like "Known only to God" I think war is futile and a big business. But WW II was different. If I was alive at the time, I would have fought and probably died in that war. There has not been a good reason to die for people that you don't know personally since. Don't let them have died in vain.
Andy Mullen, Athens, Greece

During WWII six days of prayer were called for, by the King and the PM. No mention of these has been made during any of the coverage. They had an impact, great changes occurred just days after each one. Newspapers printed details and fully supported it. This battle on our knees was as important to the outcome as the plans of leaders.
Ian Lynam, Leicester Leicestershire

Katherine Barnard sounds as though she has not been lucky enough to meet any of these veterans personally. She should try before it's too late. My father was 19 when he went ashore in Normandy, my mother was a pregnant 19 year old living in Plymouth whilst it was being blasted to smithereens. My Belgian father-in-law was shipped to a work camp in Germany leaving a wife and small son to fend for themselves in occupied Belgium. One of my best friends is an 86-year-old French lady who delivered a forbidden newspaper for the Resistance in occupied France. These people have been role models for me all my life. As long as I'm still around, they will not be forgotten.
Joy Natan, Brussels, Belgium

I remember the sacrifices made with great sadness and a huge sense of gratitude to those many selfless people. I remember my grandfather's friends who were killed in North Africa when he served with them. As far as I'm concerned those people did not fight and die for the Britain we have today.
James Elston, Cornwall, UK

I had a long and heated debate on this with a friend, I argued that we should let history go and live the world as it is today. He defeated my argument quite simply with 'lest we forget'. He was right!
Paul Wenderling, UK

We should remember people of all nationalities who fought in the war. Many were just ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. And many died as a result. My grandparents fought in the war either in the RAF, army or land army. My granddad who was a Lancaster bomber navigator had many brushes with death. There is a German night fighter pilot who died so that my granddad could live today. He was doing his job just as my granddad was doing his. Just please spare a thought for all those involved, civilian or military.
Dave, Birmingham, UK

I was born in 1944 and we were brought up to respect the sacrifices they made
Ivy, London
It means a great deal to me. I was born in 1944 and we were brought up to respect the sacrifices they made. Members of many families in this country suffered and died that we might live in freedom. We should never forget the huge debt we owe them and we should ensure that the freedoms and rights they won for us with their blood are protected and maintained. I have been down to see their exhibition and I intend to be at the parade and fly past today. I hope they receive the turnout they deserve. Thank you.
Ivy, London

My late mother, a Londoner, held her 21st birthday in 1939 and her world changed overnight. She was employed in essential war work, had brothers and sisters serving in the armed forces and others sent away from home. From that time forth her memories were of before, during or after the war. For six years she lived an abnormal life amongst bombings, destruction and daily grief. This impacted on my sister and I because of the aura of sadness she always carried for such a terrible loss of her young generation. Thank you.
V, Edinburgh

I have no memories of the end of WWII because I wasn't born until nearly 30 years afterwards. This doesn't mean I'm completely ignorant; history lessons did their bit, but it's clearly not the same as being there. I appreciate that many laid down their lives to defend this and other countries, but shouldn't it be time we put it where it is - in the past - and move on, like the German's are trying to do. I would much rather see time spent ending current wars we should never have got involved with.
Erik, UK

I thank that great generation who fought and gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today. But I am so sorry that many of the current young generation are not taught to value those freedoms, but instead, abuse them.
Phil Massie, Wirral, Cheshire

This country owes a great deal to these men and women
Sharron Parkin, County Durham
This country owes a great deal to these men and women. They risked their lives for this country. God rest their souls.
Sharron Parkin, County Durham

My father and uncles fought in WWII and much though I appreciate that, I do feel it is time to have a few less commemorations of every single thing that happened. It was a period of our history of which we can be very proud, but let's leave it at that. I think everybody knows we won by now.
Graham, Milton Keynes, UK

I've just left high school and am fully aware of how ill-educated people of my age are of both world wars. Ask most people my age and they wouldn't have a clue what VE Day was. VE Day reminds me of my late Nan, who worked at Rolls Royce during the war helping with the war effort, and my late granddad saw first hand the sacrifices made. People in schools need to be taught these important facts, as the only way I knew about VE Day was through my parents telling me and self-education.
Andy, England, UK

I agree with Katherine of Nottingham. I appreciate that these people died for defending Britain and the free world, but people have been fighting wars since time began. Eventually, like Waterloo, the crusades or any other war in the past, people will forget. Its inevitable.
AJ, Edinburgh, Scotland

It's a remembrance of a time when our country had the courage to stand up against evil, even if it didn't threaten us, because it was the right thing to do. Most of us certainly don't live in that country anymore.
Graham Haywood, UK

I have the privilege to hear the most fascinating accounts of the war in Europe from veterans, as I work with the elderly. They mention the sacrifice they did, and that it was a self-defining time for many of them. None of them regret what they had to do in the interest of self-defence. Many of them question the sense of the modern wars for oil.
Raul Pinto, High Wycombe, England

As someone of Anglo-German descent all this means to me is the end of a heinous war
Kaye, Leeds, UK
As someone of Anglo-German descent all this means to me is the end of a heinous war, in which two governments sent each of my grandfathers to kill the other. Although it's good to celebrate the fact that we don't live under a tyranny that could well have been, please spare a thought for people like my paternal grandfather, who were forced to fight a war that they did not believe in and yet were powerless to prevent. Let us hope and pray this never happens again.
Kaye, Leeds, UK

VE day reminds me of my grandfather. During World War II he worked as a spy for the MI2 in Norway. After he was caught in 1945 by the Gestapo, he broke out of the prison where he was being tortured and escaped to Sweden. He came down with TB once he had got to Sweden and had to witness VE day from a hospital bed there - the most difficult thing he ever experienced. Victory meant everything to him - he valued freedom more than any of my generation can possibly relate to. My grandfather died this spring.
Hans, Sandefjord, Norway

The 66th of 71st division was in Czechoslovakia on VE day. It meant freedom and peace. No more Mortar rounds and bombs.
John A. Gunter, Arlington, Texas, USA

I don't think today's generation appreciates the sacrifices made 60 years ago any more than those involved in W.W.II appreciated the sacrifices made by the Duke of Wellington and his men. People are born into a better world than their grandparents and find it hard to perceive how much worse things were in the past - particularly, of course, in countries where not only poverty and then-uncured diseases could kill you, but also your own government. W.W.II shaped a lot of today's world - before it, there was no radar, the atom had not yet been split, plastic surgery was in its infancy and around a quarter of the world was in the British Empire! It is the cornerstone of popular history in Britain today, but few people know more than the basics. The rise of TV history programmes does not compensate for the downturn in rigorous history classes.
Steve Christie, Edinburgh, Scotland

What it means is freedom, democracy, removal of dictators wishing to spread their poison across the World or Continent. VE and VJ are important, then, and what they stand for now are VERY important as again our freedom, democracy and safety are once again threatened by extremists. I am sure that in years to come, we shall celebrate victory over Religious extremism as we do now for VE and VJ day.
Alex Grundy, Rhos on Sea, Wales

I was a little kid on VE day and VJ day born in London and now living in the US. I will never forget it and the war, the bombing of the tubes in London was a horrible reminder. We ran down in the tubes when the bombs were dropping so this terror is so terrible for me. Good luck with finding those idiots that did it I hope its quick so London can go back again to normal
Jacki, California USA

These days mean nothing to me. It is nice that these people fought and died in a war for England but people have been doing the same for years. We don't make a fuss over the people who died at Waterloo. They should stop giving attention to something that is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Katherine Barnard, Nottingham, England





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