During the study abroad program students get to visit many different attractions. This is a personal experience of one of the students in Australia.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when first entering into the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, but I have to say it was all quite intriguing. The first things I noticed when entering the large doors of the memorial were the statues of the two large lions. I later learned that they represented a line in a town in Belgium that many people going to battle walked through, and would never make a return. This was the start to the great deal of symbolism throughout the whole memorial. Everything that was there represented something of the past and was there for a reason, which was my favorite part of the war memorial without a doubt. Walking past the entrance there was a serene looking pool of water with a burning flame in the middle of it. This burning flame represents an eternal flame and an expression of never ending appreciation that the Australian people have for the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I and World War II. One of the few sets of numbers that stood out to me that our guide gave us was that Australia lost 60,000 soldiers in WWI, and 40,000 in WWII. To Americans that may not seem like a lot but to a country with a much smaller population scale at the time, the loss of that many people was tremendous. In memory of those lives lost there were big stone walls on both sides of the memorial, one representing each of the wars with names engraved all down them. Also down the walls there were bright red poppies beside many of the names, but not all. The poppies were placed by friends, family, or loved ones that knew of the person commemorated on the wall; they stay there forever or until they fade and get replaced with new ones. The poppies have a special meaning; they are known to represent all the bloodshed in the wars and the thought of a sacred emblem of remembrance. There was a huge mosaic tiled room representing all the different types of people involved in the war. There was a picture of a nurse, a navy sailor, a pilot, and of a soldier, along with three beautiful stained glass windows the size of the full walls. In the very middle of the room on the bottom floor was a tomb that read, “An unknown soldier killed in the war of 1914-1918,” representing not just one, but all of the unknown soldiers that fought and died in the war. Inside the actual museum there were numerous displays explaining how the war actually took place and the struggles that they went through. Actually seeing the memorabilia from lifetimes ago made the wars seem to come to life. The war memorial hit close to home for me because I come from a military town and my dad was in two wars in my lifetime. I have a special place in my heart for memorializing people lost in wars, and I think the Australian War Memorial does an awesome job of representing and respecting the people of the Australia who were lost.
Thank you to Alex Morrison for sharing this personal experience from Australia