One of Honest History’s continuing criticisms of the way the Australian War Memorial has commemorated war has been that the Memorial has placed too much stress on what Australians do in war and not enough on what war does to Australians, to service people and their families, and to the rest of us. It is pleasing, therefore, to see that the Memorial has commissioned sculptor Alex Seton to produce a work, ‘For Every Drop Shed in Anguish’ to recognise the long-standing and far-reaching impacts of war service.
The Australian War Memorial has worked, [says the Memorial’s website] with veterans and their advocates to commission a work of art to recognise and commemorate the suffering caused by war and military service. This art work represents those affected by operations and during training; in war and on peacetime service.
For Every Drop Shed in Anguish will provide a place at the Memorial for those who have experienced and witnessed the ongoing trauma that can result from service, and for Memorial visitors to reflect on this experience.
By providing overdue recognition and understanding of the scars caused by service, both seen and unseen, it is hoped that this work of art will assist someway in recovery.
Seton’s sculpture will be installed in the Memorial’s Sculpture Garden in 2023. The next step will be for the Memorial to devote more space and attention to the impact of war on the people of other countries – countries other than Australia – on whose lands most of our wars have been fought. That would really be something.
9 June 2022