The Australian War Memorial is under threat and the threat comes from our own Government.
While they have splurged billions over recent years they claim they cannot find $5 million needed to prevent cuts in staff, services and operations and plunging the Memorial into what AWM Council Chairman, General Peter Cosgrove, fears will be an “inexorable decline”.
A Government that can stand idle as our most respected national institution faces this intolerable situation has lost touch with our nation’s spiritual values.
How can a government ask its military forces to fight in Afghanistan - where we have already lost 22 soldiers killed in action and 168 wounded – while undermining the shrine that honours their sacrifices?
When it was founded, after World War I, largely at the behest of WWI historian Charles Bean, its original guidebook said:
“It constitutes not a general museum portraying war, much less one glorifying it, but a memorial conceived, founded and, from first to last, worked for by Australia’s soldiers, sailors and airmen.”
It is the memorial’s spiritual element that sets it apart. First and foremost it is a shrine. It honours the ideals for which those who fell gave their lives.
It must be funded adequately to allow it to not only survive but to thrive so generations into the future will see that we have never lost our connection with those who have selflessly sacrificed their lives and their health for our freedom.