Written by 2:21 pm Interesting Reads, SLIDER, Top Stories

Australian War Memorial Invites Volunteers to Transcribe War-Time Letters Ahead of Anzac Day

Australian war

Today’s Valentine’s Day is a lucky celebration of love in the modern world. It is digitised beyond reparation, or maybe not, as this novel endeavour tries to strike the right chords and remind humanity to celebrate love and celibate war.

Anzac Day, the Australian War Memorial day celebrated since 1916, when Aussie and Kiwi men set off to participate in the Allied effort to capture the Gallipoli peninsula and force the Ottomans out of the war by capturing Constantinople, a disaster for both the warring nations and that of humanity, is still months away, on the 25th of April as it is every year.

While Valentine’s Day celebrates love and romance today, it’s also the perfect opportunity to bask in the timeless romance of the times when love lived for letters sent and received months, if not years, apart.

Terri-Anne Simmonds, in charge of the final digital experience, considers the experience as more than a ‘fascinating insight into our past.’ She further comments – ‘The content can be varied. It can be beautiful, heartening or just mundane gossip.’

Included in the collection of letters are those from soldiers who scribbled their last lines without fear or remorse of the impending doom of Gallipoli, even more letters that never reached their destined readers, out of bad luck or maybe for the best.

In its totality, more than 6000 letters are to be transcribed and digitised.

Ms Simmonds intends to engage ‘the whole family’, especially the elders, who may be the best bets for accurate transcriptions since, in her words, the letters are written in ‘various writing styles’ and ‘even the handwriting that is quite precise because it’s a lost skill.’

She confirms the challenges are in understanding the letters’ breadth of styles and depth of language and that, arguably, the task at hand might be better and best served by the generation that last wrote letters, ‘who can interpret them.’

This is, without a doubt, an attempt towards connecting the past and the present through bonds of love and family, a humanitarian effort to engage the average man and woman of old to revisit the world back then as it was, committed to a cause even when suffering with war and turmoil.

Also, there is cause for the Australian War Memorial, especially in light of its recent efforts, to engage the current generation in the transcription efforts as well, knowing the reality of lives and loves won and lost, understanding the honest power of love and humanity persevering through the most inhuman of times and scenarios, of Life triumphing over Death, of Immortality in memory standing tall and proud over the decadence of mortal combat for nothing but power and more power.

Interested volunteers with an eye for cursive writing, a heart for letters and the time to spare diligently towards this cause are urged to reach out to this government-organized effort here.

More Australian War Memorial News

Beyond letters, this year adds a lot more to reminisce.

The Riddoch has been hosting the ‘Art in Conflict’ exhibition since February 9, which is relatable, relevant, and officiated as an effort in tune with the Australian War Memorial. Notable Australian artists hosted include Mike Parr, ex-De Medici, and Ben Quilty. Points of interest include a range of artworks sourced from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The Riddoch will continue to host the works till April 1.

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