ANOTHER VIEW; Peace, if not reconciliation

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The Independent Online
There has been some controversy in the press over the details of the open-air service to be held in front of Buckingham Palace in connection with the VJ-cum-end-of-war celebration. In particular, the suggestion of reconciliation between people who were badly treated and the Japanese is said to be unacceptable.

The celebrations in London on 19 August mark not only VJ Day but also the end of the Second World War. The ceremonies are for all veterans of the war, not only those who fought in the Far East. It will express our thanks to the wartime generation for all they did for our nation, not only in battle, but on the home front as well. The tone of the day will be one of serious prayer and remembrance, as opposed to the rejoicing of VE Day.

Careful thought and preparation has gone into the planning of this service in conjunction with the church authorities. It was done in liaison with the association concerned, bearing in mind the need for it to be widely accepted. Prayers will include: thanks to those who took part in the fighting for their fortitude and suffering; thanks for peace; thanks for the reconciliation which has already been established between many nations who opposed each other in the war and prayers that, for the good of humanity, remaining divisions may be healed; thanks for the care and support given by the wartime generation, and the Lord's Prayer.

The reference to reconciliation is general, and not specific to the Far East. I can understand the feelings of a number of ex- prisoners of war who received such horrific treatment at the hands of the Japanese and who find it impossible to consider reconciliation with those who have never apologised for that barbarity. But in celebrating 50 years of peace we must pray for it to continue. We cannot expect aworld of peace in the future if we do not look forward to peace among all nations, when we old hands who suffered pass on and the young people of all nations in the future accept full responsibility for working together in harmony.

Consideration has been given to the feelings of Far East veterans; although there is wide representation, no Japanese will be involved in this commemoration. It will also be clear that the mention of "reconciliation" covering several nations occupies a minimal place in the service.

I look forward to full support from the nations and from our veterans for the well merited and fully justified VJ and end of war commemorations on 19 August.

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Bernard Chacksfield KBE CB RAF (ret) is chairman of the Burma Star Association.