Dear Dr Nelson,

I reject utterly your statement today that the Australian War Memorial is the ‘one national institution in this country that reveals more than anything else our character as a people, our soul.’ Our national soul is embodied in more than just our experience of war, it is just as fundamentally rooted in our environment, our history of settlement, and our first peoples. It is expressed not only by our military actions but by our culture and our everyday lives.

I also reject utterly your demagogic rhetorical manoeuvre of immediately invoking the blood sacrifice of our soldiers whenever you are challenged. The blood shed and the traumas experienced were on behalf of our whole country, not just its military aspects.

I reject utterly your completely disingenuous statement, when asked about the enormous disparity between the income of your institution and other national institutions, that ‘as far as decisions that are made by governments in relation to other institutions, that is a matter for the Government,’ when you yourself are very close to the Government, and you must also be aware that your colleagues in other national institutions are suffering under the 2% so called ‘efficiency dividend’, such that they can  now barely do their vitally important jobs. Have you ever stopped to think, Dr Nelson, that the trauma of the wars commemorated in ‘your’ Memorial have their echoes throughout Australia, and are therefore also recorded in our libraries, museums, and archives?

In the end the size of the tab isn’t really the point, and who suffered the most isn’t really the point, the point, as you say, is ‘our soul’. What kind of soul do we want to make for ourselves within our hard won freedom?

Ghost of Gallipoli formed on Wall at Australian War Memorial

I’m Canberra’s ‘ghost guy’, so when staff from the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Canberra wanted somebody to open their exhibition Traces and Hauntings at Belconnen Arts Centre who were they going to call? I was delighted to, of course. When thinking about which angle on their work I could take I was pleased to come across this photograph in the Sun Herald (02/08/2015).  The shot was taken by Phillip Gordon of Newcastle, who observed and photographed figures with rifles and their kit by their sides who appeared on the Memorial wall in light rain. Spookily, the person Mr Gordon had come to pay his respects to, Bert Keepence, who had been killed at Lone Pine 100 years before almost to the week, had worked for the Water Board! A spokesperson for the War Memorial said it was just water stains on the sandstone, but as Mr Gordon said, “It blew me away for a bit”. Magical images persist, and are still reported on in our newspapers.

Ghosts of Gallipoli formed on the wall of the Australian War memorial, Sun Herald, 2 August 2015

Ghosts of Gallipoli formed on the wall of the Australian War Memorial, Sun Herald, 2 August 2015