Friday, 15 February 2008


It is inspirational to reflect upon the lives of those who sacrificed it all for our country, to scan the names of over 102,000 Australian servicemen and women who have died in war. The hero’s that have courageously passed are commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and today, we were presented with the opportunity to honour every single one of them. The heart of the memorial comprises the Cloisters, containing the ‘Roll of Honour’ (pictured) where inscribed on bronze plaques are the names of those who have passed while at war. The ‘Hall of Memory’ contains the six million mosaic tiles and stained glass windows designed by Napier Waller, a serviceman wounded in action, resulting in the amputation of his right arm prior to the designs. The courtyard consists of the ‘Pool of Reflection’, crowned by the Eternal Flame with rosemary and poppy flooding the garden, signifying remembrance of Australians in war that suffered and died. But that is just the beginning...

From extensive material paintings to complete aircrafts we were overwhelmed by the realism of it all. With the help of personal memorabilia, diary extracts, and devastating stories of innocent deaths, we were able to reflect upon the lives of the amazing women who were seated by the injured to cure the pain. All nurses, wives and mothers with courageous accounts of their own. One woman writes of her poignant grief over the loss of a son... “Out in the dust he lies; flies in his mouth, ants in his eyes. I stood at the door where he went out, full-grown man, ruddy and stout. I heard the march of the trampling feet, slow and steady, come down the street... And just for a moment as he went by, I had sight of his face and the flash of his eye. He died a hero’s death they said; when they came to tell me my boy was dead. But out in the street a dead dog lies; flies in his mouth, ants in his eyes.”

Standing in the commemorative area overlooking Parliament House (pictured: with Laura Garvican (Physiology), Amanda Spratt, Warren McDonald, Me, Josie Loane and Carla Ryan) was not only a gorgeous view on a perfect day, but also a significant way to enter the weekend. I began to contemplate a few things. We are said to be athletes, AIS representatives, inspiring and leading the younger generation…role-models if you will. But after experiencing the War Memorial, it’s quite unclear as to how I could possibly compare to the selflessness of those that leave their families and often opportune futures to fight and protect the country in which I live. So while the ‘Roll of Honour’ is being extended to include the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I leave for my gym session. And while there may be no mud, guns or good looking men in uniform, there may be a brief sighting of blood, sweat and tears! Maybe I can beat my all time record of one chin-up??