For those who gave their today
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Nations across the world honour those who sacrificed their lives in the defence of their country with national war memorials and museums. Sadly, in India, we still do not have either. After many years of consideration, the Indian government has agreed to set up a national war memorial near India Gate. It will have a long tradition to follow.
One of the oldest battles to have a monument devoted to it is the Battle of Thermopylae, where Leonidas and his 300 Spartans died trying to fight the Persian hordes of Xerxes in 480 BCE. There is a bronze plaque inscribed with the following lines: "Tell the Spartans, stranger passing by/ That here, obedient to their laws, we lie".
More recent wars have also been commemorated. The national war memorial in Washington DC has 56 pillars and two triumphal arches. It receives well over four million visitors every year. Then there is the Vietnam war memorial, which has two black, triangular granite slabs engraved with the names of all those who died in that war.
In Soviet Russia, they knew how to honour those who died fighting in the "Great Patriotic War". Memorials were built in places like Moscow, Kiev and the former Leningrad. The magnificent structures are well maintained, guards at the monument march in superbly coordinated goose steps, the adjacent museums display thousands of weapons, medals and other memorabilia. The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial has some 17,000 graves, including those of people who perished in the Bataan death march. The war museum in Latrun, Israel, is hi-tech. At the touch of a button, a photograph of the fallen soldier appears, along with other details about him. There is a film that shows footage of combat operations. Generations of tanks are parked nearby. Not far away is the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II, in memory of the Jews who fought against Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.
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