In Memorandum

In Memorandum

Why do some Honour Rolls in Australia use the American spelling of “Honor”?

Honour rolls were first used in America circa 1905. Communities erected them to remember those who fought in the American Civil War. The rolls appeared in churches, schools and community centres rather than official spaces. The first honour rolls in Australia adopted the same spelling as their American counterparts and similarly were commissioned by communities rather than a government agency. The names, format and form were determined on a community basis. Some chose to list names according to rank, others in alphabetical order and a few chronologically, in recognition of the order in which the men or women volunteered. Some names were written in full, others provided only first name initials.

Do honour rolls necessarily show how many local men and women enlisted?

Identifying locals from honour rolls is problematic, since the place of enlistment was not necessarily the same as where they were born, where they spent their childhood or where they worked. There are many reasons why the two might be different. Men from outlying areas came to Sydney to enlist. Others sought anonymity under a different name or enrolled where they were unknown so that their age and fitness might come under less scrutiny.

What do the symbols on memorials mean?Concord War Memorial interior wall

Symbols such as wreaths of laurel leaves, broken columns, reversed torches, ivy covered walls or an eternal flame were sometimes used on Great War memorials. They had a specific meaning that was widely understood at the time. The wreaths represented honour. Laurel wreaths were presented to the winning athletes in the original Olympics games. The wreaths showed their heroic status, which they retained for life and were remembered in death. Those who retired were said to be “resting on their laurels”. A broken column represented a life cut short, reversed torches was life extinguished. Ivy symbolised eternity, since it was evergreen, while the eternal flame was perpetual remembrance. Other symbols included the meander border signifying something that is endless, the scroll representing the keeping of a record and the raised dais, which indicated the nobility of sacrifice.

Amdrew West

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