Descendants Reflect on Community Spirit

Part three of a three-part series

Descendants Michael Enright, Barb Watt, Ray Bruxner, Jeff Walker and Tom, James and Mark Plunkett.
Descendants Michael Enright, Barb Watt, Ray Bruxner, Jeff Walker and Tom, James and Mark Plunkett.

The iconic Beaudesert Cenotaph stands as a testament to the town’s community spirit, as evident 100 years ago as it is today.

That was the strong sentiment when the Beaudesert Historical Society and Beaudesert RSL Sub Branch marked 100 years of the monument on 28 September.

Descendants of those involved with the building of the cenotaph were among the people gathered to reflect at the cenotaph centenary service.

Deputy Mayor Cr Michael Enright, his sister Barb Watt, Ray Bruxner, Jeff Walker, Tom Plunkett, James Plunkett and Society President Mark Plunkett were among descendants at the service.

Cr Enright, who acknowledged the Mununjali people as the traditional custodians of the land where the cenotaph stands, paid tribute to Beaudesert’s community spirit.

“There has always been a willingness to make things happen, to build a better place, to make our community stronger, safer, happier or more resilient than before,” he said.

“While I have only been here for a little over 60 years, this Cenotaph demonstrates that these traits have been evident for well over 100 years.”

Cr Enright reflected on the era when the cenotaph came to be.

“In looking back to 1915, when it was first proposed that ‘something should be done’ for the public acknowledgement of enlistees and especially to those who paid the supreme sacrifice, I wondered, ‘what would the feelings have been in the district?’” he said.

“What was the motivation to create this monument? Was it that the horrors of Gallipoli were filtering back to home? Was it that as a young and growing country town, we were feeling the helplessness and isolation from a war that was another world away? Or was it that our fathers, sons, brothers, sisters and daughter’s lives may have changed forever, some for eternity?”

Cr Enright reflected on what the community’s support for the cenotaph would have meant to returned service personnel like his grandfather, Private Michael James Enright.

“I expect it was enormous, that their selfless service was recognised publicly, graciously and for perpetuity,” he said.

“It is obvious that the community valued this public acknowledgment and support for our Soldiers and Nurses by the level of donations, for the total cost of the Cenotaph of 1,340 pound. 

“To try to place some relevance to this cost, the average weekly male wage in 1921 was 4 pound 15 shillings. In today’s terms 1,340 pound equates to over $500,000. A significant contribution by this community.” 

This is the third and final story the Beaudesert Bulletin is sharing to mark the cenotaph centenary. For more photographs from the commemoration service, see the Beaudesert Bulletin Facebook page.

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