Vacant chair honours fallen | PHOTOS

Beaudesert Freemasons, Australian Army Cadets and Deputy Mayor Jeff McConnell (to right of chair). Photo by Susie Cunningham.
Beaudesert Freemasons, Australian Army Cadets and Deputy Mayor Jeff McConnell (to right of chair). Photo by Susie Cunningham.

The upper room of Beaudesert Masonic Lodge was filled with sombre reflection as Beaudesert Army Cadets joined with veterans and Masons, their families and visitors to honour fallen soldiers.

See more photos at end of story, below.

The annual Vacant Chair Ceremony, which dates back to 1875, was first held a decade after the American Civil War to pay tribute to those who did not return.

Beaudesert Lodge holds a solemn Vacant Chair Ceremony each year to honour the fallen service men and women who have served in the defence forces since World War I.

The 2023 ceremony, on 20 April, was a momentous occasion as Beaudesert Army Cadets participated for the first time, forming a Catafalque Party with veterans to surround the symbolic Vacant Chair.

The chair, draped with an Australian flag and Slouch Hat, was quietly placed in the middle of the room and a wreath laid before poppies were placed on the ground around it.

Among visitors at the ceremony were representatives from Beaudesert RSL Sub Branch, including President Steve Monteath, who delivered the reflection, and Vice President Carol Castles.

Deputy Mayor Jeff McConnell, who helped facilitate the involvement of the Beaudesert Army Cadets in the ceremony, was also present.

The event culminated in a light supper at The Centre.

Director of Ceremonies James Target read, “From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”.

“We do not know this Australian’s name and never will. We do not know his rank or Battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how he died. We will never know who this Australian was,” he read.

“He was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front; one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of 100,000 Australians who died in war. He is all of them. And one of us.”

Worshipful Master Sean Redding, who presided over the ceremony, said it was encouraging to see younger generations becoming involved.

“There is the symbolism of the cadets and the veterans acknowledging the veterans’ service to their respective countries and for the younger generation to carry on with the traditions of the Anzac,” he said.

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About Susie Cunningham 0 Articles
Journalist telling the stories of where I live. I love living and working in Beaudesert and when I'm not working you'll see me walking the dogs with my husband Zac.