‘Startling events at the Australian War Memorial‘, Pearls and Irritations, 12 October 2022
For those who came in late, a rundown of cost blowout and secrecy surrounding it, changes on the War Memorial Council involving Stokes, Abbott and Nelson, Nelson up-up-and-away to Boeing in London, and, biggest of all, the Memorial’s announcement about deeper depiction and presentation of the Frontier Wars.
Some observers have seen Nelson’s remark as indicating a step change in the way the Memorial, and the rest of us, treat our history. Others warn that if “depiction and presentation” just means the Memorial’s curators gathering into one space the Memorial’s 63 artworks depicting frontier violence (Nelson’s figure) along with assorted spears and shields and calling the space “the Frontier Wars Gallery” that will not meet the case.
There needs to be commemoration as well. As historian Henry Reynolds wrote, “We will certainly know that we are entering a new era when a tomb of an unknown warrior is placed next to the grave of the unknown soldier in the Memorial’s inner sanctum”. That’s more like it.
*David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website.