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Memorial a home for the stories that heal

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At a cost of more than $20 billion in deployments since 1999, Australia has created 100,000 veterans. All have been changed by their service and a significant minority carry physical and psychological traumas.

One of the contributors to post traumatic stress is 'meaninglessness'. If you think that what you did doesn't count, that it's not appreciated, known and understood by your nation, and that your people are proud of it, you are more likely to suffer.

The Australian War Memorial building. Photo Elesa Kurtz

The Memorial tells stories of men and women that hurt, and stories that heal. Stories of our heroes must be told as a means of seeking to inspire us to be people who might run into danger for others rather than from it. However, the stories told are overwhelming of love and friendship - love for friends and between friends, love of family and love of our country. These are stories of two million men and women whose lives were devoted not to themselves, but to us - and, in their last moments, to one another.

There's no triumphalism here, no demeaning of our former foes. Of course there's a dark side in all human beings and in the events of history. As Charles Bean wrote of the men and women he lived with at the front for more than four years, "... the good and the bad ... the greatness and the smallness of their story." The qualities we focus on are those of everyday men and women caring for one another in the midst of extreme circumstances, displaying courage in its various forms, determination, endurance and a spirit that binds us as Australians.

To suggest that expanding the Memorial would destroy its character could not be further from the truth. The new galleries will significantly expand Australia's peacekeeping story and tell what our nation does to prevent war in the........

© Canberra Times