Hundreds of Australians have complained that
sponsorship deals with arms manufacturers are
‘degrading to the memory of our war dead’
Christopher Knaus / The Guardian
(April 20, 2022) — The Australian War Memorial is pursuing a new sponsorship deal from arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin despite being inundated with letters from veterans, historians and retired staff saying such arrangements are “degrading to the memory of our war dead”.
More than 300 Australians wrote to the memorial urging it not to renew its deal with Lockheed Martin, due to the company’s involvement in nuclear weapons and surging share price following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The deal expired earlier this month. Those who have complained have claimed companies that profit from conflict should have “no place” in what should be a solemn memorial to the nation’s war dead.
The AWM confirmed to the Guardian that the current sponsorship deal, which funded a podcast on veterans’ experiences, had concluded. But director Matt Anderson said the memorial was currently engaged in “ongoing discussions with Lockheed Martin Australia about future opportunities”.
“The Memorial will continue to discuss options for further support,” Anderson said.
The position has infuriated critics, who say the memorial has ignored the pleas of hundreds of Australians who voiced their opposition through a campaign organised by the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW).
More than 300 people wrote to the AWM director and council, citing Lockheed’s involvement in the production of nuclear weapons, and its sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among other things.
Many of the letter-writers were veterans, or families of veterans, and added their own messages of personal opposition.
Dr Sue Wareham, the association’s president, said the memorial responded to the letters with a standardised reply, which avoided the key issues of Lockheed Martin’s controversial history and its business model, which is based on an “absolute need for wars and instability in order to survive”.
“The AWM has virtually ignored every argument and personal plea that hundreds of Australians have raised with them against their policy of accepting weapons company funding,” she said.
In response to the association’s criticism, the AWM said: “The Australian War Memorial values the support of corporate partners. The additional funding received through corporate sponsorship and donations has assisted the Memorial to develop exhibitions and programs that could not otherwise have been delivered without third party funding support.”
“Australian War Memorial urged to stop accepting Lockheed money: Companies that profit from conflict have no place in a memorial to those killed in war,” Christopher Knaus / The Guardian, March 22, 2022.
David S — They have so much money they can put up war memorials everywhere as long as no one remembers what shame is. We saw an armored bank car drive into LM headquarters while we were there.
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