23 February 2013 - MENIN GATE





MENIN GATE



YPRES, BELGIUM
G'day guys,

Today I introduce you to some facts about Australian soldiers and a structure known as Menin Gate, courtesy of Mark Baker, Editor-at- Large, 'The Age'.


"In a quiet corner of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a darkened alcove where a single painting hangs. The image is one of the most powerful and moving tributes to the Australians who died on the Western Front during World War I.

In 1927 a memorial was opened at Menin Gate amid the ruins of Ypres, in Belgium, destroyed at the height of the war a decade earlier. Will Longstaff was profoundly moved by the unveiling of the stone panels listing the names of tens of thousands of soldiers for whom there was no known grave - 6198 of them Australians.
 
That night, unable to sleep, Longstaff took a walk along the Menin road where he had a vision of the spirits of the dead marching out of Ypres towards the battlefields to the east. On his return to London he is said to have painted Menin Gate at Midnight in a single session - its ghostly soldiers moving under moonlight across fields of blood-red poppies.


Menin Gate and the tragedy it bears witness to, still moves thousands of Australians who visit the fields of Flanders each year. At 8pm each day, traffic is stopped and six buglers from the local fire brigade sound the Last Post.


In his three years as the Australian ambassador in Brussels, Brendan Nelson visited more than 70 times, sometimes with official visitors but mostly on private excursions. He and his wife spent a frozen New Year's Eve there with a handful of other Australians. And it was where they chose to spend their last evening in Belgium before returning to Australia late last year when Nelson took up his new job as director of the War Memorial.
 
''It is an incredibly moving experience,'' he says. ''You stand under the gate, you hear the Last Post played and the ode recited and then you look up and see all those names, all those Australian names.''
 
Nelson is a latter-day but zealous convert to the task of evangelising the military service and sacrifice so deeply ingrained in Australia's sense of identity, with the War Memorial the principal custodian of that legacy.

In contrast to most of his predecessors, Nelson has been neither a distinguished military officer, nor a celebrated historian. Apart from a stint in the school cadets, he has never served in the military.

 Doctor Brendan Nelson

Clancy's comment: I've always had a lot of time for Doctor Brendan Nelson. He always showed compassion and courage as a politician. Let's hope he does the same as Director of our War Memorial.  Hopefully, he will ensure that the 7,000 indigenous soldiers who fought for this country are suitably recognised.


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Blog comment:

Sidra shahid has left a new comment on your post "23 February 2013 - MENIN GATE":

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Melissa Wray has left a new comment on your post "23 February 2013 - MENIN GATE":

The Menin Gate is truly a remarkable yet sombering place to visit. 

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 shangrila farm house has left a new comment on your post "23 February 2013 - MENIN GATE":

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

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  June Collins has left a new comment on your post "23 February 2013 - MENIN GATE":

A truly moving tribute. I'm sorry I did not know about the Menin Gate when I visited Belgium.