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World War monuments loom by the lake

By Sideshowmatt123 - 19 February 2011 15

My thoughts on the proposed Rond Terrace monument (background here, thanks johnboy).

I’m curious about how the idea first started. What is the aim, the perceived need? Did the  RSL or Department of Veterans’ Affairs notice that people seem to be forgetting about the World Wars? Were young folk observed defacing war memorials and mocking the sacrifices of their passed and rapidly passing ancestors?

Precisely what is to achieved by the erection of this monument? Are these monumental chunks simply to remind us that the historical event happened, and to remind us that we remember them? Or will they actually help us to remember better those wars, and our fellow citizens’ suffering and sacrifice, with appropriate reverence and reflection? Will they be able to communicate some profound relationship between the ‘here’ (of Rond Terrace) and ‘now’ (2011), and the infinite different ‘theres’ and ‘thens’ of those conflicts? Or are they just a kind of emotional decor writ large – some ‘big stuff’ to proudly, needily cram before the touristic gaze of visitors? I suspect the latter. I suspect this monument will only substitute pomp for empathic memory. It will diminish our sense of the suffering of war, with its mute, brute scale. Its earnest, symmetrical solemnity speaks lacks any organic connectedness to the true places and forms of national memory.

Few may know that the ACT has its own memorial honouring men and women ‘associated with’ the Territory who served in a number of conflicts and peacekeeping missions throughout the world. Has anyone ever visited it, or seen someone visit it? Has anyone ever had a reflective moment there? I think it’s an earnest, sorry and irrelevant confection. This is the problem. Artifice and confection.

I reckon the money could be better spent elsewhere, even on other forms of public commemorative art and culture. It seems a bit too shrill and simple to argue that the funds should be spent healing current wars,  preventing new ones, etc. The money’s obviously burning a hole in someone’s pocket. Any ideas? Designs/locations?

What’s Your opinion?


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World War monuments loom by the lake
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Drew9 9:07 pm 21 Feb 11

#2
Captain RAAF5:12 pm, 19 Feb 11

I understood 4% of the OP’s post, Can I have it again in English, please?

YEAH I agree. Original article doesn’t make sense. What exactly are you trying to say? Please try again….

Feathergirl 2:41 pm 21 Feb 11

“I sometimes wonder if they died in vain. If this is the new world it’s a far worse one than the old. Class hatred, discontent, wild extravagance in some places, children starving in others, women mad for pleasure, and the dead forgotten already except by the mothers-the mothers who never to their dying day will see a fresh-faced boy without a sword piercing their hearts and a cry rising to their lips, ‘My son!, My son!’.”

Just read that passage in a book I am reading called ‘Penny Plain’ by O. Douglas. It is on Project Gutenberg if anyone wants a copy. Said by a ministers wife remembering her son recently killed in the Great War. Just felt a tug to put it up here.

The cat did it 1:58 pm 21 Feb 11

BrassRazoo said :

“… veterans’ grievance industry …”

+1

alaninoz 9:54 am 21 Feb 11

A contributing factor is that the ACT Government, and the relevant parts of the Federal bureaucracy are in the pockets of the construction industry. We have to build something, needed or not, just to keep the money flowing into the wheels turning.

BrassRazoo 9:01 am 21 Feb 11

Do away with all those ‘lack of recognition’ or ‘their memorial’s bigger than ours’ bleatings that sustain the veterans’ grievance industry and just have the one memorial – the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And while we’re at it, no more Anzac Day marches (keep your head down and/ or have a bit of luck while doing your job and you’re up for 60 years of big-noting yourself as a ‘hero’) or honours, military or civilian, for doing your job (whatever it takes). Get in, do the job, get out (with the best medical treatment if you’re wounded or hurt), and have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve been a good citizen.

The cat did it 11:19 pm 20 Feb 11

Just because the GG etc are patrons doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done quietly. The Committee established itself, rounded up an influential membership, then wrote to the Government in early 2007 proposing the memorials. This proposal was accepted by the government’s memorials committee, the Canberra National Memorials Committee, in March 2007.
The first public announcement seems to be August 2007, by the Minister for Veterans Affairs.

One further point- one would hope that the military’s famed capacity for contingency planning would mean that they have already identified a location for a World War 3 memorial- where?

I-filed 2:30 pm 20 Feb 11

The cat did it said :

It seems that you develop a proposal, quietly get some influential supporters …

Not exactly quietly – the Governor-General and her husband are joint patrons and it’s on the GG’s website …

http://www.gg.gov.au/content.php/category/id/2/title/patronages

The memorials will presumably go ahead then – their location is probably the only part of the deal that can be changed.

Holden Caulfield 10:05 am 20 Feb 11

The cat did it said :

…It is interesting to note that the ‘Memorials Development Committee’ is somewhat of a misnomer. It is a private limited company formed for the purpose of building memorials to World War 1 and World War 2 servicemen. The Committee is entirely composed of ex-military personnel. From its name, one might get the strong impression that it is a government committee of some sort, perhaps related to the NCA, or the Commonwealth’s management function of the Parliamentary Triangle. But I’m sure leaving such a misleading impression would not be intentional.

A bit like Australian Pedestrian Council and the loon behind it, Harold Scruby. Who, last time I looked, lived in a big city and drove a big 4WD, haha.

The cat did it 11:07 pm 19 Feb 11

This has been bubbling away for some time. A design competition was held in 2008. Reminds me of the similarly ill-conceived proposal for the ‘Immigration Bridge’. It seems that you develop a proposal, quietly get some influential supporters and in-principle support from sections of government, go public as late as possible, then try and move the proposal through the formal approval processes before any opposition can reach critical mass.
Timing will be interesting, as they probably have the Feds between a rock and a hard place- if they don’t get enough private subscriptions, the pressure will be on the Feds to cough up the balance to ensure that it’s finished by the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli in 2015.
It is interesting to note that the ‘Memorials Development Committee’ is somewhat of a misnomer. It is a private limited company formed for the purpose of building memorials to World War 1 and World War 2 servicemen. The Committee is entirely composed of ex-military personnel. From its name, one might get the strong impression that it is a government committee of some sort, perhaps related to the NCA, or the Commonwealth’s management function of the Parliamentary Triangle. But I’m sure leaving such a misleading impression would not be intentional.

staminaman62 9:07 pm 19 Feb 11

@facet,
What did we gain from fighting WW1? Revisionist history would try to portray WW1 as a squabble amongst European empires that were as bad as each other. That’s simply not so. Australians at the time were almost universally in agreement that siding with Britain in that war was correct. Not because of slavish adherence to empire but because they understood the British empire was the underwriter of a stable international system. The kaiser’s Germany was not a liberal democracy. Germany victory would have created almost the same effect of an unstable and malignant Europe and wider world as a nazi victory in WW2 would have achieved.

facet 8:42 pm 19 Feb 11

I reckon the Kookaburras at the dawn service have the right idea.

60,000 young men died in WW1, probably three times that number (men women and children) suffered life long torment.

Can anyone tell me what we gained or benefited from that experience.

The Poms lent us the money (at compound interest) to fight that war (very generous).

And yes Captain Rats, it was character building.

In the current conflict in Afghanistan, maybe 100 or so Aussies will die (and get a Prime Minister/ Opposition Leader send off). Nothing much will change (nothing much has changed in 250 years), but we will have paid our dues to the US alliance (as we paid our dues to the British Empire in WW1).

And yes Captain Rats, it was character building,

Another war memorial, seems a bit silly really.

MrPC 8:29 pm 19 Feb 11

IMHO the perfect WW1/WW2 memorial would be to extend Anzac Parade over the lake and right up to OPH. That way everyone could say we’ve built a bridge and gotten over it.

It was ages ago people. Move on with your lives.

Holden Caulfield 6:38 pm 19 Feb 11

I don’t have a problem at all with wanting to build dedicated memorials to WWI and WW2. However, the proposed design is somewhat OTT in scale and will visually dominate the area. I think that’s pitentially a mistake.

C’est la vie.

As an aside, one of the most powerful memorials I have seen is the Jewish memorial behind Notre Dame in Paris. It’s almost at river level and is very moving in its simplicity.

Captain RAAF 5:12 pm 19 Feb 11

I understood 4% of the OP’s post, Can I have it again in English, please?

MrPC 4:18 pm 19 Feb 11

Another monument to the events of the past? That’s just what our backward looking country needs!

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