This is India's war memorial.
It took us over seven decades to build a space that honoured our war heroes, but here it is now, standing with pride just behind India Gate in Delhi.
Did we need this war memorial? Some might say no, we didn't, because this would be glorification of war.
But how we see the war memorial now has changed over the years. Today, we look at it as a symbol of solidarity - our solidarity - for those among us who went to fight for our country.
It's a mark of respect for those who had to do what most of us wouldn't ever be called to do - lay down our lives for the greater good of our people.
This war memorial, therefore, is a reminder that the loss is not for the individual soldiers and their families alone but for all of us, collectively, to bear.
If you haven't been to the National War Memorial, you might wonder what it looks like.
We’ll tell you. It's made up of four concentric circles depicting the journey of a soldier from birth to martyrdom.
The outermost circle, called the Rakshak Chakra or Circle of Protection, is a ring of trees.
Within that is the Tyag Chakra or Circle of Sacrifice, a circular line of granite tablets, upon which are inscribed the names of martyrs in wars from 1947 to 1999.
Then comes the Veerta Chakra or Circle of Bravery, which is a gallery depicting some of India's fiercest battles, such as the Battles of Gangasagar and Longewala, in bronze murals.
And the innermost circle is Amar Chakra or Circle of Immortality, featuring the eternal flame, whose symbolism is unambiguous.
There is also a garden in the memorial where busts of the 21 Param Vir Chakra are displayed.
And there is also a souvenir store, managed by the Army Wives Welfare Association, and whose proceeds go towards the welfare of soldiers and their families.
And that’s about it. These are what make up India's National War Memorial.
It was a long time coming, but here it is now, a sacred space for remembering the fallen forever. And a reminder for all of us, of the cost of war.
We have a more elaborate story on this very topic in the May issue of Swarajya’s print magazine. It will be available for reading online as well. Do catch that story.
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