Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Mystique of the Australian War Memorial



The Mystique of the Australian War Memorial

By Graeme Wong
Spirit News
September 19, 2072

The Australian War Memorial is Australia's national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in the wars of the Commonwealth of Australia. The memorial includes an extensive national military museum. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its type in the world.

The Memorial is located in Australia's capital, Canberra. It is the north terminus of the city's ceremonial land axis, which stretches from Parliament House on Capital Hill along a line passing through the summit of the cone-shaped Mount Ainslie to the northeast. No continuous roadway links the two points, but there is a clear line of sight from the front balcony of Parliament House to the War Memorial, and from the front steps of the War Memorial back to Parliament House.

The Australian War Memorial consists of three parts: the Commemorative Area (shrine) including the Hall of Memory with the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, the Memorial's galleries (museum) and Research Centre (records). The Memorial also has an outdoor Sculpture Garden. The Memorial is currently open daily from 10 am until 5 pm, except on Christmas Day.

Many people include Anzac Parade as part of the Australian War Memorial because of the Parade's physical design leading up to the War Memorial, but it is maintained separately by the National Capital Authority (NCA).

Charles Bean, Australia's official World War I historian, first conceived a museum memorial to Australian soldiers while observing the 1916 battles in France. The Australian War Records Section was established in May 1917 to ensure preservation of records relating to the war being fought at the time. Records and relics were exhibited first in Melbourne and later Canberra.

An architectural competition in 1927 did not produce a winning entry. However two entrants, Sydney architects Emil Sodersten and John Crust, were encouraged to represent a joint design. A limited budget and the effects of the Depression confined the scope of the project.

The building was completed in 1941, after the outbreak of World War II. It was officially opened following a Remembrance Day ceremony on 11 November 1941 by the then Governor-General Lord Gowrie, himself a former soldier whose honours included the Victoria Cross. Additions since the 1940s have allowed the remembrance of Australia's participation in other more recent conflicts. The Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier was added in 1993, to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War I.