Shrine of Remembrance
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but when I was in primary school (or around that age) and learned all about the Great Wars, Remembrance Day, and the men and women who went off to fight in wars, I would think, “wow, what brave older people,” just as I was taught. I respected them, and knew they had done a great thing for my country, but to me they were older people, older braver people, and I didn’t really relate much.
In my teens, I can’t say I thought too much about it. But soon after, I hit my twenties.
And suddenly? Suddenly those men and women who went off to fight for their countries weren’t just ‘older braver people.’ Oh no, suddenly their age was put in perspective for me. Suddenly, I related to them. Suddenly, I realized how young they were. Suddenly, I understood just how huge the sacrifice they made was. And suddenly I was overcome with a massive realization of just how amazing and brave these (very, very) young people were, and I saw how important it was to honour and remember them.
I took a long walk this afternoon to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance. It’s a beautiful memorial, built in 1927 to commemorate the men and women of Victoria (the state Melbourne is in) who served in World War I.
It’s been on my to-do list for a long time, and finally today I made the beautiful walk there.
The memorial stands tall upon a hill in the botanical gardens, and overlooks Melbourne. It’s free to enter (donations welcomed), and an absolutely ‘must-do’ if you’re ever a tourist here.
Besides the obvious beauty of the shrine, it’s (in my opinion) remarkably built because it’s designed so that on November 11, at 11am, a ray of sunlight beams through the roof, and falls onto the word “love” on the Stone of Remembrance (below). Pretty neat, eh?
(Side note: I spoke to a retired old woman who now spends her days volunteering there (she was so lovely!) and she told me that due to daylight savings, the light now passes at noon, so now they use mirrors to reflect the light onto the word.)
For tourists, however, every half hour The Last Post is played, and an artificial sunbeam moves across the stone. It was just me and the woman in the shrine when this happened, and I got quite emotional standing there when the light came down, listening to The Last Post.
I just can’t get over how young those people were who went to war. How scary it must have been. How brave they were!
You can also walk up to the top of the shrine to get magnificent views of Melbourne. I stood on the lookout for well over an hour, admiring the shrine, and, of course, good old Melbourne.
I’m now actually a little annoyed at myself that I didn’t visit it sooner, because I think I would make the shrine my ‘thinking place,’ well, if I had a ‘thinking place.’ It’s so peaceful and calm up there, and a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
Lest We Forget