Tomorrow I will be on the driveway at 6.00 am observing the makeshift Anzac Memorial that my neighbour will unveil on his wall. A news report tonight predicted that driveway memorials might draw a larger number of people than the traditional Anzac Day ceremonies. Such is the power of the idea of collective remembering.
War memorials, like other public memorials such as the Septemeber 11 Memorial in New York, commemorate events that are seared into the collective memory. They keep alive the memory of those who died, while telling a story of the place, the time and circumstance of their death. Generally they provide a collective meeting place for remembering on anniversaries, and at other times invite us to contemplate and make our own meanings.
In country towns all around Australia, the commemorative obilisks dedicated to those who died in the First World War are a familiar and somehow comforting feature. This year the steps or enclosures of these memorials to the fallen will be bereft of floral wreaths. Seeing dying wreaths around these stone pillars after Anzac Day, is a memory from my childhood.