The famous war strategist Sun Zu said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.In reality wars are fought in the battlefields and the soldiers spill their blood and sweat with baynots,bullets and bombs to defend their countries.As the soldiers toil blood in the battlefields they leave behind glorious saga of indomitable courage and bravery.Many countries have built war memorials to respect the sacrifices of their soldiers in the service of the nation and Australia built the Shrine of Remebrance to pay respects to its war heroes.
I always marvelled at visiting the war memorials because I respect and admire the soldiers a lot.I have visited three war memorial in India i.e the Kargil war memorial at Drass,the Leh war memorial at Leh and the Martyrs memorial at McLeodganj.As my Australian trip took concrete shape i put the visit to the shrine of remembrance on my list.The shrine of remembrance in Melbourne is the war memorial built to remember the sacrifices of the Victorian soldiers in the service of the nation.It is one of the iconic landmark in Melbourne that all of the Australians are proud of.The Aussies flock to the memorial on the ANZAC day and the Remembrance day to pay their respects to the soldiers.
I was lucky to visit the Shrine of Remembrance on the remembrance day i.e 11th November.It was a cold morning and the sun was covered by the clouds.I took a tram from the Flinder street station to the Shrine of Remembrance.As i entered into the concrete pathway after alighting from the tram, the shrine was visible from quite a distance.The shrine was looking like a monument emitting the aura of sacrifices of the brave soldiers on the cold morning of the remembrance day.The shrine complex was bustling with soldiers,veterans,school childrens,tourists and the public.On the way to the shrine complex, i met a highly decorated war veteran who was arranging his victorious medals on his chest hanging from the black blazer.I greeted with a firm handshake typical of a soldier’s and then we had a chat about the monument,its history and its importance to the Aussies.Then i asked him to tell his stories of war and his gallantry medals.As he narrated his war stories by recalling the haunting images of the battle field during his times,i was captivated by his tales of the courage,bravery and sufferings.Saluting the soldier and posing with him for photograph i moved towards the entrance of the shrine.
On my way to the entrance i stopped at the cenotaph on the shrine complex and the eternal flame burning nearby.The theaters of war and the forces that fought are inscribed in the high rise cenotaph.With every step into the shrine complex many questions were stirring within me like why a war , why soldiers have to die young and why war can only buy peace.Within no time i reached the entrance of the shrine.The shrine is an impressive architectural marvel and a visual pleasure designed on the lines of Parthenon of Athens.The school children were standing in a queue to enter to the shrine and the tourists were clicking every nook and corner of the heritage.
As it was the Remembrance day that day,I was fortunate to witness how the Aussies were laying the poppies in the Shrine of Remembrance with so much pride.As I get close to the poppies laid on the ground,I found a note tucked at the base of the poppy and read the quote in it.”At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”Its such a moving quote.Soldiers fight and sacrifice blood and sweat for their country and we can do least for them is to remember their sacrifice.
In many of the world war allies countries,poppies are used as a mark of respect to the sacrifices of the soldiers serving the nation.Inspired from the poem ” In Flanders Fields” by the Canadian doctor Lt Col John McRae,the flower has made its journey to become the powerful symbol of Remembrance.
Finally i entered the shrine and the first thing saw inside was the stone of remembrance with “Greater love hath no man” inscribed on it.Many Aussies were offering their respects at the stone of remembrance.Some times some sights move you as a person and this was one of those sights where the Australians young and old were remembering the sacrifices of the soldiers.I joined the Australians in offering my respects to the brave and valiant soldiers of Victoria who ave sacrificed their lives in the services of the nation.
Then i moved around the balcony of the shrine.From the balcony the entire cityscape of Melbourne and the greenscape of the botanical garden were visible.The scenery from the balcony is a photographer’s delight.As i was moving in the balcony i spotted some young soldiers in their camoflage shade uniforms were marching in a file.I rushed to them to have a photograph with them.I requested them to have a snap with me and they posed with me in joy for a click.With biding them adieu i walked down the steps of the shrine to end the visit.It was an enriching experience to shrine on the remembrance day.
The shrine is just 2/3 km from the Flinders street station and is well connected by the tram service.If you are ever in Melbourne don’t forget to visit this beautiful Shrine of Remembrance and if you ever happen to be in Melb during ANZAC day (25th April) or Remembrance day (11th November) you should not miss the visit to the shrine.