The Australian War Memorial has paid tribute to more than 60,000 Defence personnel with the instalment of three new commemorative panels on Friday.
The bronzed inscriptions were unveiled in the memorial’s commemorative area and pay tribute to Defence personnel involved in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Solomon Islands and East Timor.
Memorial director Brendan Nelson said it was “an extraordinarily important day”, not only for the memorial but for the thousands of soldiers deployed during these conflicts.
“From today, when those veterans, their families and those who love them come to the Australian War Memorial, no longer will they see the last place that Australians fought and died as being Vietnam,” said Dr Nelson.
“But instead they will see the names of the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan stand alongside and in the same line of honour.”
The inscriptions have been installed to commemorate all deployed service men and women but is of particular importance to the loved ones of the 48 personnel who have died during the four conflicts. The inscriptions join the 30 existing panels in the commemorative area that honour soldiers from past operations.
Dr Nelson said the additional inscriptions were representative of the modern Australian Defence Force and would serve as a reminder to the nation of the sacrifices made by their service men and women.
“It is not until you stand in this area ... and you look at these names in bronze where Australians have fought, served and died that you really begin to understand what makes us tick as Australians,” Dr Nelson said.
The commemoration comes after the 41st death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan. Australia still has about 400 Defence personnel in Afghanistan.