The majestic Australian War Memorial and Anzac Parade, in the Australian capital, are at the centre of the nation's tribute to the courage and sacrifice of generations of the men and woman who have helped defend our country.
Designed as both a shrine and a museum, the Australian War Memorial houses a collection of relics, personal and public records, art and media, which tells the story of a nation's experience in world wars, regional conflicts and international peacekeeping.
The sandstone Australian War Memorial, with its copper-sheathed dome is the site of national Anzac Day Services.
Remembering the dead
C.E.W. Bean, Australia's official First World War correspondent, began thinking about commemorating the sacrifice of Australians while he was serving at Gallipoli in 1915. Bean's idea was to set aside a place in Australia where families and friends could grieve for those buried in places far away and difficult to visit.
The Australian Government agreed to Bean's proposal and in 1917, while the war continued in Europe, announced that it would create a national war memorial. The foundation stone was laid on Anzac Day 1919. The Depression and the Second World War delayed work, however, and it was not opened until 11 November 1941.
The Australian War Memorial was originally planned to commemorate only the First World War, yet it soon became apparent that the new war overseas was comparable in scale and effect. In 1941 the Australian Government extended the Memorial's charter to include the Second World War; in 1952 it was extended again to include all armed conflicts that Australia was involved in - the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Gulf Wars and peacekeeping operations.
Visit the Australian War Memorial
Close to one million people visit the Australian War Memorial each year to pay their respects and gain an understanding of Australia's experience in armed conflicts. The collection includes artefacts and relics, film, photographs, oral and written records of personal experiences.
The Australian War Memorial's collection contains unique objects such as a Lancaster bomber and the largest collection of Victoria Crosses in the world. Two medieval stone lions were presented by the city of Ypres (one of the First World War battlefields) to the Australian War Memorial in 1936.
The Sculpture Garden includes works such as a depiction of Simpson and his donkey who rescued wounded servicemen on the battlefields of Gallipoli, Australian serviceman, and Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop, in commemoration of the medical staff who came to the aid of Australian prisoners of war in South-East Asia in the Second World War.
Anzac Parade is a dual-carriage road, the length of which is lined with memorials for Australians who have died in war. The parade was officially opened on 25 April 1965 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Anzac landing in Gallipoli and various memorials have been added over time.
Memorials on each side of Anzac Parade include:
- Australian Hellenic Memorial - in honour of the 6th Australian Division, which joined an Allied force resisting German advancement in mainland Greece.
- Australian Army National Memorial - whose seven cylindrical pillars recall the seven major conflicts in which the Australian Army has been involved in the 20th century.
- Australian National Korean War Memorial - remembering the 17,000 Australians who fought under the United Nations Command until the armistice in July 1953.
- Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial - honouring the 50,000 Australians who served in South Vietnam as part of a composite force from 1962 to 1973.
- Desert Mounted Corps Memorial - the first Memorial to be constructed on Anzac Parade, it commemorates the Australian Mounted Divisions, the Australian Flying Corps and every other Australian and New Zealand unit and formation that served in Egypt, Palestine and Syria from 1916 to 1918.
- New Zealand Memorial - standing 11 metres high and flanks both sides of Anzac Parade, the design consists of a bronze representation of the handles of a traditional Maori flax basket.
- Rats of Tobruk Memorial - a replica memorial based on the 1941 memorial in the Tobruk War Cemetery, built by Australian soldiers during the siege that began 10 April 1941.
- Royal Australian Air Force Memorial - featuring three wing shapes in stainless steel representing the endurance, strength and courage of RAAF personnel.
- Australian Service Nurses National Memorial - honouring the nurses who have served by caring for the sick and wounded in every conflict to which Australia has committed troops.
- Royal Australian Navy Memorial - bronze figures convey the daily activities associated with naval life, while the geometric forms, such as an anchor chain, depict elements of a ship; and moving water represents the ocean's waves.
- Kemal Ataturk Memorial - honouring the man who both commanded the Turkish troops in Gallipoli and founded the modern Turkey, the memorial reflects the vision and compassion of Ataturk, who paid tribute to his former adversaries.
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