Commemoration at the Memorial
Commemoration at the Memorial
In the aftermath of the battle of Poziéres in 1916, the Australian official war historian Charles Bean began to develop plans for a national memorial to commemorate the sacrifices made by his fellow Australians. He felt it was important for such a memorial to include an extensive military collection, in order to help Australians at home understand the wartime experience:
It had always been in the mind of many Australians soldiers that records and relics of their fighting would be preserved in some institutions in Australia, and to several of us it had seemed that a museum housing these would form the most natural, interesting, and inspiring memorial to those who fell. (C.E.W. Bean, Gallipoli mission, 1948, p. 5)
Today, the Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who have died in war. It helps Australians remember and understand through maintaining the Roll of Honour and conducting national commemorative ceremonies.
Each year on Anzac Day (25 April) and Remembrance Day (11 November), the two major days of commemoration in Australia, the Memorial holds National Ceremonies on the Parade Ground. These are attended by thousands of official guests and visitors and are followed by the wreathlaying at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.
Wreathlaying at the Memorial
Official visitors to the Memorial usually pay tribute to Australia's war dead by laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier or the Inauguration Stone. School groups and veterans' groups also conduct commemorative wreathlaying ceremonies in these areas.
Last Post Ceremony
At the end of each day, commencing at 4.55 pm AEDT, the Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony. The ceremony begins with the singing of the Australian National Anthem, followed by the poignant strains of a Lament, played by a piper. Visitors are invited to lay wreaths and floral tributes beside the Pool of Reflection. The Roll of Honour in the Cloisters lists the names of more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations over more than a century. At each ceremony the story behind one of these names will be told. The Ode is then recited, and the ceremony ends with the sounding of the Last Post.
National memorial and grounds
The Memorial's Main Building and grounds are conserved and developed as a national memorial to Australians who served and died at war. As well as the Commemorative Courtyard, the Sculpture Garden provides another dignified and attractive focus for commemoration within the Memorial's grounds.
World-renowned collection and displays
The Memorial's galleries showcase one of the world's greatest military collections, thus fulfilling Charles Bean's vision of a national memorial. The displays provide direct evidence of the lives, actions, and fate of the men and women who served and died for Australia in war and military operations. The loss of over 60,000 Australian lives in the First World War and 40,000 in the Second World War, and numerous deaths in other conflicts, might become little more than statistical information if not for the Memorial's National Collection, which illustrates the effect of war on individuals, families, and communities.
The Memorial's historians research and foster research into Australia's military history. This provides the depth and breadth of knowledge required to support the Memorial's unique displays and commemorative functions.