Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne



This imposing memorial to the men and women of Australia's armed forces stands on a hill overlooking the Melbourne skyline. A recent rebuilding program has added a huge underground exhibition space which contains detailed histories of Australia's involvement in international conflicts, ranging from the First and Second World Wars, to Korea, Vietnam, and to more recent (and still ongoing) conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Information also shows Australia's participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, which are arguably even more important, given that these operations can help stop local conflicts from escalating into major international wars.

History
Patriotism statuary
The Shrine of Remembrance was created to meet the needs of a grieving community after the extensive loss of lives in the First World War (1914 –18). 114,000 Victorians enlisted in the First World War. Of the 89,000 of them who served abroad 19,000 were killed. They were buried in distant graves far from home at a time when most Australians did not travel abroad. The Shrine provided a place where Victorians could grieve as individuals, as families or as a community. It also served to honour the courage of the men, women and children who remained at home. 

The Shrine of Remembrance was designed by two Melbourne returned-soldier architects, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop. The inspiration for the external outline came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the mausoleum at Halicarnassus to Mausolus, King of Caria in South West Asia Minor.

The Shrine is composed of a number of elements consisting of exterior and interior features, a Crypt, a World War Two Forecourt, Visitor Centre, and the Remembrance Garden and Shrine Reserve. All are brought together by the grand design and the bold architectural elements that are each worth examining closely.

The Exterior
The east and west sides of the Shrine are marked at the corners by four groups of statuary representing Peace, Justice, Sacrifice and Patriotism. In addition, visitors can see sixteen stone ‘battle honours’ discs, commemorating Australia’s involvement in World War One battles at Gallipoli, Villers Bretonneux, Amiens, Ypres, and many others.

Western wall inscription: Let all men know...
The western wall of the Shrine bears the inscription: LET ALL MEN KNOW THAT THIS IS HOLY GROUND. THIS SHRINE, ESTABLISHED IN THE HEARTS OF MEN AS ON THE SOLID EARTH, COMMEMORATES A PEOPLE’S FORTITUDE AND SACRIFICE. YE THEREFORE THAT COME AFTER, GIVE REMEMBRANCE.

The Sanctuary
As visitors enter the Shrine of Remembrance they enter the main Sanctuary inside of which are the Stone of Remembrance. This is set into the floor and contains the inscription; GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN. This is part of a verse from the Bible (John 15:13), “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The stone is aligned with an opening in the roof of the Sanctuary so that a ray of sunshine illuminates the word LOVE, on the Stone of Remembrance at exactly 11:00 am each year on November 11, Remembrance Day.
Crypt memorial: Father and Son
RAAF Display

At left: Located beneath the Sanctuary in the Crypt, stands a large bronze statue of a father and son representing the two generations who served in the both world wars. 

There is much else to see and do here, including examining the numerous displays in the exhibition space deep below the Shrine. In the grounds surrounding the Shrine visitors will find the Cenotaph and Eternal Flame, the Remembrance Garden and Shrine Reserve containing important statues and memorials—such as the one to John Simpson Kirkpatrick who is commonly known as “The Man With The Donkey”.

Finally, if visitors  to Melbourne and are able to visit the Shrine of Remembrance on the two most important days on the Australian memorial calendar—Anzac Day (April 25), and Remembrance Day (November 11), I’m sure they will find the experience to be both memorable and emotional, especially if they are up early for the Dawn Service.


Acknowledgements
Much of the information in this post is sourced from the official Shrine of Remembrance website and from Wikipedia

Note: Click on images to see at full size.

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