The Australian War Memorial and Anzac Parade are at the heart of the nation’s tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who have helped defend our nation.
They are important national landmarks that help us understand and commemorate the contribution and loss of Australians during times of armed conflict.
The sandstone Australian War Memorial, with its copper-sheathed dome is the site of national commemorative services and events such as the ANZAC Day Services.
CEW Bean, Australia’s official First World War correspondent, began thinking about commemorating the sacrifice of Australians while he was serving at Gallipoli in 1915. Bean’s idea was to set aside a place in Australia where families and friends could grieve for those buried in places far away and difficult to visit.
The Australian Government agreed to Bean’s proposal and in 1917, while the war continued to rage in Europe, announced that it would create a national war memorial. Its foundation stone was laid on ANZAC Day 1919, but work on the building was delayed by the Depression and the Second World War and it was not opened until 11 November 1941.
The Australian War Memorial was originally planned to commemorate only the First World War, yet it soon became apparent that the new war raging overseas was comparable in scale and effect. In 1941 the Australian Government extended the Memorial’s charter to include the Second World War; and in 1952 it was extended again to include all armed conflicts that Australia was involved in—the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Gulf Wars and peacekeeping operations.
Close to one million people visit the Australian War Memorial each year to pay their respects and gain an understanding of Australia’s experience in armed conflicts. Visitors to the building first see two medieval stone lions that were presented by the city of Ypres (one of the First World War battlefields) to the Australian War Memorial in 1936.
The collection tells the story of a nation’s experience in world wars, regional conflicts and international peacekeeping. It contains unique objects such as a Lancaster bomber and a large collection of Victoria Crosses.
The Sculpture Garden includes works depicting Simpson and his donkey, Australian servicemen, and Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, in commemoration of the medical staff who came to the aid of Australian prisoners of war in South-East Asia in the Second World War.
Anzac Parade pays tribute to Australians who have died in war. The Parade was officially opened on 25 April 1965 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli and various memorials have been added over time.