Remembrance Day in 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the return of the Unknown Soldier – a historic national event that would not have been possible without the support of the Australian Funeral Directors Association and its members across Australia.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents the spiritual centre of the Australian War Memorial. On 11 November 1993, the historic return and burial of an unnamed World War I soldier was witnessed by 20,000 people in Canberra and many thousands more across the nation on TV.
“Not many people know that the Australian Funeral Directors Association was approached by the War Memorial to be part of this occasion,” Dale Maroney, CEO of Walter Carter Funerals and NSW/ACT President of the AFDA, said.
While the AFDA donated $40,000 to cover the cost of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, their expertise was just as important in making the long-desired event a reality.
“From the exhumation in France, through the transportation of the soldier’s remain and being laid to rest in the Hall of Remembrance at the War Memorial, Australian funeral directors oversaw the process and attended to the details,” Dale said.
“That we could play a part in such a historic, national moment is regarded with great pride by AFDA members.”
The Unknown Solider was exhumed on 2 November 1993 from Adelaide Cemetery at Villers-Bretonneux in France. The remains were transported to Australia, arriving on 7 November, where they lay in state at Old Parliament House until the funeral parade to the War Memorial on Remembrance Day.
Today, the Tomb in the Hall of Remembrance is an important space of reflection and commemoration about the hundreds of thousands who have fallen in war for our nation.