Break with tradition for Anzac Day
Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC and the director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson arrive on the Parade Ground of the War Memorial in the Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vechicle on Friday. Photo: Colleen Petch
Names of battlefields and iconic images of war will be projected on the front wall of the Australian War Memorial before this year's Anzac Day dawn service.
In another break with tradition, the huge audience will hear readings from war diaries and be able to view proceedings on large video screens.
The innovations are the brainchild of the new director, Brendan Nelson, a former defence minister, who is planning to introduce audio tours for visitors.
Dr Nelson urged Defence personnel who have served in recent years to join Anzac Day marches around the country. ''Particularly, we welcome you here on Anzac Day at the Australian War Memorial,'' he said on Friday.
''For Anzac Day this year we are going to do a number of things to enhance what is already an extraordinarily moving series of events.
''Prior to the dawn service itself, there will be some creative lighting projected onto the front of the memorial which will depict, across land, air and sea, those seminal events in Australia's military history over the last 100 years.''
''We will also have some readings to the crowd who come to the memorial prior to the commencement of Anzac Day, excerpts from letters, diaries, descriptions of battles and things men and women have done in our name over the last 100 years.''
Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith will be the face of the memorial's Anzac Day commemorations. He will read from diaries of Afghanistan Diggers from 5-5.15 am, before a 15-minute silence leading to the beginning of the solemn dawn service.
Corporal Roberts-Smith was awarded the VC for heroism in 2010 during his fifth tour of Afghanistan. He said his visits to the memorial as a child helped shape the ethos that guided his life.
''It was very inspirational to me and I think it's very important that all Australians remember we need to commemorate the sacrifice they [war dead] made,'' he said. ''What's important for me here is to reinforce to all Australians that we need to remember the current service men and women serving, particularly the guys who have been in Afghanistan for the last 10 years.''