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Media Releases 31 May 2021

Media Statement: RSL NSW President responds to vandalism of Martin Place Cenotaph

RSL NSW President Ray James has condemned the acts of vandalism that have disfigured the Cenotaph at Martin Place in Sydney.

Mr James said there is nothing more precious to the veteran community than a Cenotaph which is an empty grave in honour of members of the Australian Defence Force who have given their lives overseas and don’t have a grave in Australia.

“As the President of RSL NSW I want to make it clear to these people that they have not just disrespected a statue – they have blatantly disrespected every person who has ever served in the Australian Defence Force and the families who have never been able to bury a loved one.”

“The bronze soldier and sailor at Martin Place guard the memory of every service man and woman who have given their life so that we can all be free. It means a great deal to families, communities and the country and the disrespect shown to them on the weekend really beggars belief”, he said.

Mr James added that he is deeply disappointed to think that anyone would consider vandalising such a vital public monument that is the focal point of ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day and other significant commemorations.

As custodians of commemoration and the Martin Place Cenotaph, Mr James said RSL NSW is determined to see acts of this nature never repeated.

“The term ’Lest we forget’ means we must always remember their sacrifice and this incident serves as a reminder that we must be vigilant in ensuring the community, and especially younger generations, are properly educated about the service and sacrifice of those who have served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations”.

Mr James noted that the act of vandalism is a matter for NSW Police to investigate and that City of Sydney Council has responsibility for the Martin Place precinct and has completed urgent repairs on the Cenotaph today.

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