At the entrance of the Shrine of Remembrance
This past weekend I ventured to the Australian Shrine of Remembrance. It was an assignment for a class to visit and write a reflection about the memorial to those Victorians who lost their lives in war throughout Australia’s history. It was a good chance for me to learn about Australian involvement in the major wars throughout history. I had this stereotype that Australia was never really in wars or suffered great loss of human life from past and present wars.
The actual Shrine was beautiful and commanded your attention as soon as you walked to the entrance stairs. The building was located on a hill just outside the city center of Melbourne. You could see the entire city from the balcony, which goes the whole way around the shrine. Despite the busy streets below, the shrine was very quiet and peaceful. Outside there was a tall memorial with a flame burning at the base. The “Eternal Flame” was lit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 and has been burning ever since to commemorate those who died in World War II and their eternal life.
The most amazing part was the sanctuary. In the center of the sanctuary is the Stone of Remembrance. It is symbolic of a gravestone for all the Victorian service men and women buried in unmarked graves or overseas. It is purposely set to sit below ground level so that visitors must bow their heads to read the inscription, “Greater Love Hath No Man.” But this memorial gets even more amazing. World War I ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. Each year on Remembrance Day (November 11th) a natural ray of sunlight shines in from the opening in the roof onto the Stone of Remembrance. At precisely 11 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) the sunlight illuminates the word “love.” Although I was not visiting during this time, seeing that memorial was truly a moving experience.
Another memorable display was the Gallery of Medals. All along the wall, enclosed in a glass case, are 4,000 service medals from different wars. Each single medal represents 100 Victorians who have served in wars and 6 who have lost their lives. Seeing the large amount of physical medals really put into perspective how many people actually died for their country. It really made you reflect not only the soldiers Australia has lost, but also those from the U.S. who gave their lives for their country throughout history.