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War Memorial rejects honour request for peacekeepers

Date

Chris Johnson

Sarah McCarthy's online petition was signed by more than 17,800 people. Her father Captain Peter James McCarthy was killed in Lebanon in 1998 as a peacekeeper.

Sarah McCarthy's online petition was signed by more than 17,800 people. Her father Captain Peter James McCarthy was killed in Lebanon in 1998 as a peacekeeper. Photo: Melissa Adams

Peacekeepers will not be included for now on the Australian War Memorial's Roll of Honour despite a petition signed by more than 17,800 people calling for them to be remembered alongside other soldiers killed in action.

The War Memorial council's chairman, retired Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, tabled the petition during a council meeting on Monday.

The online petition had been jointly presented by a Canberra woman, Sarah McCarthy, whose father, Captain Peter McCarthy, was killed in Lebanon in 1988; and a Perth woman, Avril Clark, whose son, Private Jamie Clark, died in the Solomon Islands in 2005.

Captain Peter McCarthy, who died on January 12, 1988 while serving as a peacekeeper in Lebanon.

Captain Peter McCarthy, who died on January 12, 1988 while serving as a peacekeeper in Lebanon. Photo: Supplied

Because those men were deployed on peacekeeping missions when they were killed, their names are recorded separately to those who died during or as a result of what the Department of Defence classifies as ''warlike service''.

The petition had called for the names of 48 Australians killed in post-World War II peacekeeping and humanitarian operations to appear on the Roll of Honour.

Had it been agreed to, their names would have been included among those of the 100,000-plus Australians killed in wars and conflicts.

But the War Memorial's council unanimously decided to retain the status quo, meaning the peacekeepers' names would stay listed separately in a remembrance book.

The decision was posted on the War Memorial's website on Tuesday.

''Council members are most mindful of the sensitivities surrounding the inclusion of names on the Roll of Honour and of the need to consult a wide range of stakeholders on these matters,'' the statement read.

''Council is aware of a number of differing views in the broader Australian and veteran communities and has undertaken to further consider these opinions over the coming months.''

The council next meets early next year and will revisit the matter then.

Ms McCarthy, whose father died when his vehicle hit a landmine, says she will keep up the fight for him to be properly honoured.

''The decision is not what we wanted, but that said, there is still hopefully a chance that it may still happen,'' she said.

Ms McCarthy was a toddler when her father was killed. For her, the War Memorial would not feel like a real memorial until her father's name was included on the Roll of Honour.

She noted that her father was a soldier serving the Australian government when he was killed.

Until recently, Ms McCarthy was not aware that a remembrance book including peacekeepers' names was kept at the War Memorial.

''When I saw the book for the first time on Thursday it really brought it home to me that they're saying my dad's different and he's not worthy of the Roll of Honour,'' she said.

''And then on Remembrance Day, on Sunday, others could place a poppy on the wall next to their loved ones but Avril and I could only turn a page in book and place a poppy there.

''It didn't seem right. I'll still keep pushing the matter and will talk to anyone who wants to talk about it.

''We handed them a petition with 17,500 names on it. What else can I do?

The Australian Greens have also campaigned for formal recognition of peacekeepers who died serving the nation and for their names to be included on the Roll of Honour.

The party's veterans' affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wright, said the Greens would continue lobbying for the change.

''Peacekeepers have an enormous and often dangerous role and they deserve proper recognition and honour for their service to our country,'' Senator Wright said.

''I hope the council will thoroughly examine the issue and support honour roll recognition for peacekeepers when they meet in 2013.''

1 comment

  • More often than not, the only thing a peacekeeper has to keep himself 'safe' is his blue UN beret. Armed only with a code of conduct, and a possible threat scenario that dictates when the peacekeeper can or cannot perform his individual duties, a peacekeeper is usually unarmed and without the benefit of the mutual protection of other soldiers deployed on 'warlike' operations. The world deplores war and everyhting associated with it. Given that the role of the peacekeeper is to assist in stopping conflicts developing into a war, the giving of their own lives in fulfilling that role deserves to be properly recognised.

    Commenter
    opso
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    November 14, 2012, 5:51PM
    Comments are now closed
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