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Oct 29, 2013

Political correctness catches up with the Unknown Soldier

Around fifty years ago, Protestants seemed to be the people who opposed drinking, smoking, fornication, and most of the simple pleasures available to all of us.  Catholics on the other hand were pretty laid back, possibly due to their ‘sin now, confess and repent on Sunday’ policy.
In this day and age though, things have turned around with the churches lightening up a bit, but in their place, atheists have become the new wowsers.  Now, rather than simply ignore the church or maybe poke a bit of fun at it, these people seem to be demanding the removal of all religious symbolism everywhere.
The proposed removal of the words, “Known unto God” from the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Canberra War Memorial has not been explained other than it seems to be a good idea, but is probably designed to avoid offending atheists or Muslims, both of whom might regard the words with outrage: 
IN 1999 the words "Known unto God" were carved at the northern end of the plinth surrounding the tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier in Canberra. It is the epitaph Rudyard Kipling advised the Imperial War Graves Commission to adopt in 1917 to mark the graves of soldiers whose remains could not be identified. It is inscribed on the headstones of more than 212,000 Commonwealth soldiers. 
Six weeks ago, on the day Tony Abbott was being sworn in as Prime Minister, the War Memorial's director, Brendan Nelson, told the National Press Club that the inscription was being removed. The words of explanation at the opposite end -- "He symbolises all Australians who've died in war" -- also would be going under the hammer and chisel. 
"We are removing those," Nelson let slip towards the end of an unscripted speech.  There was no press release; no announcement on the memorial's website; no draft plans: no period of consultation: indeed nothing resembling a proper explanation. ...
... In its place were to be inscribed the words of our 24th prime minister, the Honourable PJ Keating.  "Into one end we will engrave: 'We do not know this Australian's name, we never will,' " said Nelson. "At the end, as you walk into the hall, it will say: 'He is one of them, and he is all of us.' " … 
… It was only when Abbott spoke directly to Nelson that compromise was reached.  "Known under God" would stay but the inscription "He symbolises all Australians who've died in war" would go. It would be replaced by Keating's phrase "He is one of them, and he is all of us." … 
… What next? Will they be sending the masonry police to every foreign field where Commonwealth soldier, name unknown, rests beneath the inscription "Known unto God"? There are 212,000 of them by the way, although for obvious reasons there is no way of knowing how many of them are Australians. … 
… In the end, however, what we think of God is irrelevant. The men and women who chose the words "Known unto God" were contemporaries of the fallen. They experienced the consequences of a horrible war and knew the pain of loss. Who are we to change them? 
The words of Charles Bean, whose vision inspired the War Memorial, leave no room for ambiguity. "Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved," Bean said in 1948, "and here we guard the record which they themselves made." …
Nelson was one of the most useless opposition leaders the Liberals ever foisted on this country, being replaced after nine months when he couldn’t get it through his head that his role wasn’t to agree with Rudd on all issues.  Still, replacing the traditional inscription with words from a Keating speech is bizarre. 

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