Memorials to the war dead
26/03/2012 § 3 Comments
Throughout New Zealand, there are cenotaphs. Nearly every town has one, a pillar or a memorial hall or both, etched with the names of the boys from the area who died in war. This map shows their locations.
They are heartbreaking. I was in Taihape on the way back from Lake Taupo this weekend, having lunch in a cafe across the street from their cenotaph. The list of names — 20 to 30 on the side facing us — seemed impossibly long for a small community. When you read the names, you find many with surnames in common, brothers or cousins lost to their families.
But there is an aspect even more tragic. Look closely, and you find that they are often really memorials to the Great War, World War I. Later on, the towns had to make room for the dates and names from the next war, and the one after that. It’s as if these communities chose the centre of town or the main crossroads to build a final monument to sacrifice. Then, a few years later, they found they had to do it all over again.
Now, in addition to the stone columns, there is also a virtual cenotaph.
I wonder what those townspeople were thinking as they raised the funds for their memorials, then designed, built, and dedicated them. What did the memorials signify to them?