Monday, 27 May 2013

The cost of armed conflict


The Armed Forces Memorial has two large bronze sculptures at its centre, created by Ian Rank-Broadley.  In one, a serviceman is raised aloft on a stretcher. At either end are grieving relatives: a woman and child and two anguished older people. It bears witness to the cost of armed conflict to those left behind. The other includes a warrior being prepared for burial, by a female and a Ghurka soldier (to remind us that our armed forces cross gender and racial boundaries.)  Although not shown in my photo, it also has a man preparing to carve the warrior's name, and another figure pointing to the world beyond, where the warrior will rest.  The Memorial wall also has a slit in the stone, through which the sun's rays shine, exactly illuminating the wreath at the centre, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - the traditional time of Remembrance.  Larger than life-size, the sculptures are undeniably powerful in their realism. Somehow I had expected something more vaguely symbolic and I was, to tell you the truth, a little shocked by the rawness of these.


11 comments:

  1. I just got goose bumps reading this Jenny, I love the illumination at the right time and date to honour the memory of those lost..we have a similar memorial here in Perth. I've really enjoyed sharing your day exploring the NMA, it is a wonderful tribute, I only hope the empty space you mentioned stays empty oui!

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  2. Maybe it was the point: shoking visitors so that they don't forget? the sculptures are beautiful, but like you I prefer the first one than the second, which is "too real".

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  3. We don't have memorials like this one in Sweden, it is a powerful sculpture and it will make you think about the cost of war.

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  4. Hi Jenny - this is the first time I've seen the Memorial - which has encouraged me to visit at some stage .. the sculptures do look raw, yet so real .. thanks for showing us - cheers Hilary

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  5. I didn't realise it was Memorial Day in the US... This post can stand to honour all those who have lost their lives serving their country in the name of democracy.

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  6. They produce a mixed emotion. The primary effect seems to be on emphasizing the pain and losses from warfare, but they seem to be missing an appreciation for the men and women who serve when their country asks them to help. They are quite different from the memorials we see in the USA.

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  7. These are beautiful -- an antidote to the old sugar-coated trope that it is sweet and proper to die for one's country. Until every citizen is required to do military service, it's too easy for the majority to wave flags, act solemn, and go on about their lives for the rest of the year, ignoring the real costs of war to those few who serve.

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  8. Re Professor Hazeltine: The secret formula is that he cares deeply about doing the best job he can. He has hundreds of students every semester and takes the time to know each by name. He is prepared in class and knows his material backwards and forwards. Teaching is his love, his life and his passion.

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  9. This is a great series, Jenny. Must admit I was about to do a piece on the NMA following my own visit earlier in the year - but I'll hold off for the time being! You do such great photos anyway!

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