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The Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial has an eerie, terrible, beauty to it. From the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier to the pillars of the four elements, to the hauntingly beautiful M. Napier Waller mosaics it is a powerful space, and one that I treat with respect.

I do not always visit the Hall of Memory; sometimes it is too terrible to contemplate.

When I do, I approach from the left side of the Roll of Honour, past the names of the 60,000 Australians who fell in World War I, and past the statue of the sailor from HMAS Sydney.

As I passed there yesterday in the company of rdmasters and leecetheartist, I wondered which was sadder: the names with poppies beside them, or the names without.

I still don’t know for sure, but on subsequent visits I may buy a poppy to place beside a name without, that he be remembered by someone.

Before entering I will stop to read the eulogy for the Unknown Soldier given by Prime Minister Keating.  Whatever else may be said, on that day, in that moment, with that speech Mr Keating was worthy of the office, and of the task set before him.

Within the Hall I silently contemplate the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier and the space within which he rests above the Hall of Valour in the collection below.

When I depart I pass down the right hand side of the Roll of Honour, past the statue of the soldier, and the names of the 40,000 Australians who fell in World War II and subsequent conflicts.

The Hall of Memory is a powerful space, and not one to be treated lightly or casually.  I do not always visit it, but I do so with respect when I do.

NB: The photos in this post came from an earlier visit in 2001.  They match my memories from yesterday, although I think that there are fewer poppies on the WWI Roll of Honour now.