Family happy with peacekeeper decision

NO ONE could ever tell proud father Peter Pridue that his son Beau’s service wasn’t worthy of the Australian War Memorial’s roll of honour.
Shanghai night field

Yesterday, after a sustained campaign by Mr Pridue and the families of other fallen soldiers, the war memorial council made the historic decision to overturn its policy on the recognition of peacekeepers.

Speers Point soldier Beau Pridue, who died in a vehicle crash in East Timor in 2011, will now have his name etched on the panels that mark the service of Australia’s 102,000 war dead.

‘‘It’s probably the best day since he passed away, just knowing that it’s probably the last thing I will be able to do for him,’’ Mr Pridue said yesterday.

‘‘It’s just brilliant.

‘‘All those young lads who were killed will all be looking down saying ‘we have been remembered and respected’.’’

For decades, the war memorial has not recognised peacekeepers on the roll of honour if their service was not deemed ‘‘warlike’’.

If Craftsman Pridue’s accident had occurred in Afghanistan, his name would have automatically been recorded on the honour roll.

Instead, his name is one of 48 included in a remembrance book that remains locked away behind a glass cabinet at the Australian War Memorial.

The campaign to recognise peacekeepers began with Perth mother Avril Clarke, whose son Jamie died in the Solomon Islands in 2005.

Ms Clarke’s Change上海夜网 petition gained 41,000 signatures. The campaign was also supported by the Newcastle Herald.

Yesterday’s Herald online poll found readers more than 95per cent in favour of peacekeepers being included in the honour roll.

“This is an incredible victory for people power. I am just over the moon,” Ms Clarke said.

“For years, I had been fighting a lone battle to win some respect and recognition for peacekeepers like Jamie who had died serving their country.’’

War memorial council chairman Rear Admiral Ken Doolan said the decision reflected ‘‘a wider community perspective in a changing world.

“The founder of the memorial, Charles Bean, could not have envisioned the world in which we now live, but it is important that we uphold the spirit of his vision,’’ he said.

He said it is of vital importance that members of the defence force be fittingly commemorated.

The council will add a new plaque to the honour roll to commemorate the fallen peacekeepers. It is expected to be completed by September.

Change上海夜网 campaigns director Karen Skinner said the decision was a David and Goliath story.

“A working mum from Perth has managed to create a national movement and convince one of the most venerable institutions in Australia to change their policy,” Ms Skinner said.

BEST: Peter Pridue at Speers Point. Picture: Simone De Peak

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