THE Australian War Memorial Council has acted with wisdom and justice by agreeing, at last, to allow the names of fallen peacekeepers to be inscribed on the memorial’s roll of honour.
After all, few tasks – in or out of uniform – are more honourable than peacekeeping.
Until now the memorial council had stuck to an old edict that only those whose lives were lost in actual theatres of war could be named on the roll. Fallen peacekeepers’ names were relegated to a separate remembrance book.
This discrepancy had caused immense heartache to families of peacekeepers, who garnered the support of many thousands of sympathetic Australians who agreed that their loved ones’ names belonged by right on the great national memorial.
Among the campaigners were the parents of Speers Point reservist engineer Craftsman Beau Pridue, whose life was cut short by a tragic accident in East Timor.
Tradition is important, but there are times when it must be flexible.
The war memorial roll of honour was born almost a century ago, before the concept of military peacekeeping missions evolved.
Those who created the memorial did so with equality of recognition uppermost in their mind.
Those designers would surely have embraced the inclusion of uniformed peacemakers whose sacrifice is no less profound than those slain in battle, or by accident or disease in a theatre of war.
When a person wears the Australian uniform as a peacekeeper, they do so knowing the great risks they may face in course of that task.
It is right and fair that Australia should record their names on its roll of honour if they should happen to fall in the line of this most honourable of uniformed duties.