Saturday, January 10, 2009

Soldiering On

Commemoration Of A Short But Treasured Life


Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Making the most of the photo opportunities during a trip to the west coast, I took this shot just as I was leaving Kings Park in Perth, last Sunday. It was a scorching hot day with the mercury hovering close to the 100 Fahrenheit mark and after spending about an hour in the sprawling 400-hectare park (that’s about 1000 acres) I was keen to find some shade when I spotted this sight.

Commemorative trees for soldiers have an interesting history here in Australia. About 20 years ago, while driving from Melbourne to Adelaide, we passed through Ballarat and I noticed little plaques beside a long row of trees on each side of the Western Highway.

The next time we did the trip, I measured the distance and was surprised to discover that the Avenue of Honour, as it is called, stretched for more than 20 kilometres. It is by far the longest of its kind in any Australian city or town.

Each tree was planted in honour of a Ballarat citizen who volunteered for active service, with a plaque bearing a cross for each one killed in action. I did a rough calculation based on the estimated distance between each tree and I have to admit that I was astounded by the result.

I estimated about 3500 trees, but I researched this calculation yesterday and found that the official figure is almost 3800 trees.

This solitary tree, on the other side of the country, is living testament to a much-loved son killed in 1918, in the last months of World War I. He was not just a son of the family whose surname he shared, but a son of this nation as well.

Visit TNChick's Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "Aftermath".

30 comments:

jinksy said...

This living testament of a young life lost is so much nicer than a headstone in a graveyard.
One of my Mum's brothers was killed in December 1918, also 21, and it left Christmases a little tarnished everafter for Mum and Gran...

richies said...

I love the idea of trees as memorials. I think we all take for granted the sacrifices of those who came before us.

An Arkie's Musings

Suldog said...

Such a very nice thing for them to be remembered, but so melancholy that they are remembered for giving their lives.

Daryl said...

A forest for the fallen, very appropriate in to give back for one(s) taken too soon.

Sarah said...

What a heartbreaking picture. Thank God for people like this, who give their all so that the rest of us can be free.

Moannie said...

So much better than a forest of crosses.

Tessa said...

Ah, a sobering moment. We all tend to go about our lives and forget that young men ...and women..have died and will die in the never ending quest for peace. Thank you, David, for helping us to remember.

Maggie May said...

Sad.... all the wasted life.
Better to have a forest in memory, than just the headstones, I think.
Poignant post.

Little Gypsy said...

This is really cool. I think it is an appropriate memorial. I wish we had one like that her in the U.S.

RuneE said...

Welcome back! And with a touching story to tell. I don't think it is as well known as it ought to be how much the dominions contributed to both the World Wars.

Lee said...

I like both the living tree memorial and the permanent plac. In the US we often see wreath's placed beneath a tree along the highway but this gives better remembrance for the young life lost.

Thank you for sharing this.

Cheers!

cheshire wife said...

Planting a tree in memeory of a young life lost is such a good idea. Perhaps you could show us how big the trees are?

simon said...

too right Dave. Great post

Merisi said...

Thinking that the horrors of war nowadays still cost so many lives, day in and day out, in so many parts of the world.

Sandi McBride said...

It's the young heroes that make us gasp, their lives cut so short it is unseemly. How touching that his memory has soldiered on. Thank you for sharing it David. His spirit travels the world, with your help, it's making the trip a bit faster.
Sandi

Gail said...

Words reflecting honor. Oh, could we plant a forest!

gogouci said...

Definitely a life lost too soon. A tree is a perfect symbol to memorialize a loved ones memory.

YTSL said...

A thoughtful as well as sobering post. It's terrible to think of the countless deaths caused by war (caused by the ambitions of men). And to think that it's all still going on today... :S

Angela at mommy bytes said...

A very sobering aftermath.

rachelizabeth said...

Wow. That brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful tribute.

haggardmom said...

What a beautiful and elegant testament for those who made a great sacrifice.
Thank you for commenting on my blog.

stan said...

In the circle of life, a loss is renewed in the hopes of future generations and in this case, the trees being symbolic of.

julie said...

These trees are wonderful living memories of those who made sacrifices :)

archiearchive said...

I have a great uncle remembered amongst those trees in Kings Park. So much tragedy in what was then such a small settlement. Some of the old trees have had to be replaced by new trees. Good post. Mine was on a similar thought today.

gen/entry said...

Oh that is a very nice choice for the theme our Heroes...Happy weekend.

cookie said...

wonderful thoughts. however sad, its the bravery of these men that carried the burden of the war. this too is a wonderful tribute to them

i beati said...

my heart aches, but then again a lovely remembrance Sandy

YellowRose said...

Such a heartwrenching photo, but I love the trees as a living memorial of those who gave their all. Thanks for sharing.

Leslie said...

"Commemorative trees for soldiers... "

This made me think of the line of cypresses outside France Mayes' villa, Bramasole. I always have a good look at them and think what they represent when I am there.

Glad you liked my cannon exhaust! I had my little students out with rulers in the little teacher carpark last year measuring exhaust pipes - and fancy that, mine won!

We were also learning to do tally marks, counting colours of cars.

My son just laughs at my exhaust though. His Subaru WRX has one that makes mine look like it's a miniature one.

Elaine Dale said...

This is a very touching entry, thanks for sharing the information.