Stanley, Peter: Commemoration without conscience: the War Memorial must remain sacred

Peter Stanley

Commemoration without conscience: the War Memorial must remain sacred‘, Canberra Times, 22 November 2018

Article by military historian (and Past-President of Honest History) arguing that, if the Memorial is indeed a sacred place, that status is incompatible with it being part-funded by arms manufacturers. (See related articles on and linked from Honest History; use our Search engine with the search term ‘arms’.)

I came to realise [working in the Memorial for 27 years and since] that the memorial belies its appearance. Seemingly an edifice of stone, it is in fact constructed of the intangibles of emotion and memory. It is actually much more fragile than it looks – a precious national treasure, one which needs to be carefully conserved and protected. That’s why I support the Commemorate Don’t Commercialise campaign, which asks Australians to oppose the memorial’s implication in the business of arms manufacturers.

The Memorial is resilient but is now threatened.

The memorial now emphasises sentimental commemoration over its museum and research functions, fundamentally imbalanced, and is now courting what can only be described as The Big End of Town – and increasingly weapons manufacturers … The memorial, the nation’s best funded cultural institution, has no real need to raise vast amounts from sponsorship, but the temptation of securing extra money seems irresistible, regardless of the ethics of accepting money from those who profit from selling weapons.

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