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The Forum > Article Comments > The unknown War Memorial - the politics of remembrance > Comments

The unknown War Memorial - the politics of remembrance : Comments

By David Faber, published 16/5/2007

It should be remembered that the original social function of the Great War cult of remembrance, and thus of ANZAC Day, was mourning.

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‘This is the context of the now ritual remark that ANZAC Day does not exist to glorify war. We must keep more faith with this concept than the powers-that-be have done lately.’

Whether or not Anzac Day exists to glorify war, unfortunately, that is its inevitable by-product. The other forces at work when this cenotaph was being built – the WWI anti-conscription movement and anti-war movement which drew tens of thousands of people to rallies in the nation's towns and cities, and culminated in the defeat of two conscription referendums in the following two years – have never been given a memorial, a parade or a Dawn Service. Indeed, they barely receive even a footnote in our history books, even though they probably saved many thousands of Australian lives.

Yet the opportunistic social forces that pressured thousands of impressionable young men to enlist in a war on the other side of the world, a war they barely understood, still thrive today.
Posted by MLK, Wednesday, 16 May 2007 2:24:53 PM
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In 1915, when ANZACs were dying at Gallipoli and the Battle of Ypres was underway where poison gas was used in war for the first time resulting in 100,000 casualties. Few Australians would know though that at the same time, 1,500 women of the world attended an International Congress at The Hague, Holland to consider alternatives to war.

These women developed the principles of peace, namely - prevent war, disarmament and conflict resolution by mediation. Their peace principles were formally adopted with the establishment of the League of Nations in 1919, then in 1946 enshrined in the United Nations’ Charter. The women formed an organisation called “Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom” (WILPF) of which 92 years later, I am a proud Australian member.

While all 191 countries in the world have signed the United Nations’ Charter pledging to prevent war, disarm and negotiate conflict, there is still a willingness to rush to military solutions such as the ongoing wars in which Australia is engaged.

We know that peace is achieveable. United Nations peace keeping forces have succeeded in places like Cyprus and Cambodia in ending the cycle of violence. Just last year diplomatic talks prevented a confrontation with North Korea spiralling out of control.

I would like to see the focus change from war to peace by publicly promoting Australia’s proud record of peacekeeping and peace makers. I don’t seek to detract from the stories of courage and sacrifice in war. There are however, other Australians who have made a significant contribution to peace and their inspiring stories remain publicly untold.

Why not create a peace walk from the Adelaide Torrens Parade Group, through the lawns of Government House to the war memorial on Kintore Avenue instead of the proposed soldiers’ memorial walk?

The peace walk could showcase Australian peace keeping missions as well as efforts of civilians and groups. It could also have spaces for quiet reflection. The peace walk could stand guard on our memories and inspire new generations of peace makers.

I hold onto a dream for a peaceful future.

Ruth Russell
Posted by Ruth Russell, Wednesday, 16 May 2007 11:32:24 PM
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