In Melbourne, Victoria one of the cities most famous landmarks is the Shrine of Remembrance. Completed in 1934, the Shrine was built to commemorate Australian troops lost in World War One – “The Great War (1914-1918).
The Shrine’s design with its pyramidal roof and influences from ancient Greece is intended to offer a sense of solidity as a permanent memorial that provided a place for people to pay their respects for family members buried far away on the other side of the world. It has since become a place to commemorate Australian soldiers that have fought and lost their lives in all wars.
The buttresses of the external walls of the Shrine have large sculptures depicting the virtues of Patriotism, Sacrifice, Justice and Peace and Goodwill.
The eastern external wall has the following inscription:
“This monument was erected by a grateful people to the honoured memory of the men and women who served the empire in the Great War of 1914-1918”
The western external wall has the following inscription:
“Let all men know this is holy ground. This Shrine established in the hearts of men as on the solid earth commemorates a people’s fortitude and sacrifice. Ye therefore that come after give remembrance.”
The Shrine has a number of areas within it, including The Sanctuary which is surrounded by friezes depicting Australian involvement in World War One and the Stone of Remembrance with the inscription “Greater love hath no man“. At regular intervals an artificial “Ray of Light” passes over the stone, but on Remembrance Day on November 11th at 11am the day and time the armistice to end World War One was signed, natural light passes over the word “love” on the stone.
Below the Sanctuary is The Crypt. This room acts as a memorial to the military units that served during 1914 to 1918 and includes various regimental flags and a statue entitled “Father and Son” to honour the courage and sacrifice of two generations in two world wars.
A newer section of the Shrine houses a visitors centre and small museum displaying photos, uniforms, equipment and medals.
The grounds of the Shrine have various memorial statues, trees and gardens. There is also the eternal flame that burns continuously in honour of those who fought in World War Two.
Each year on ANZAC Day (April 25th) the Shrine is a focal point for a veterans march to commemorate all who served their country in a time of war. Since the 1970’s the memorial has played a part in my life and remains a special place to me. I marched with one of my Grandfathers to the Shrine and I have attended dawn services to pay tribute to fallen country men and women. I had not been there for a number of years and this recent visit provided me a great opportunity to wander its corridors and crypt to pay my respects again without the large crowd that normally accompany significant days in our Australian history. Lest we forget.