Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge, located at 14020 Marguerite Drive in Madeira Beach, performed their Annual “Empty Chair Ceremony” in presence of forty members, family and friends from as far away as Ohio and Canada. The Empty or vacant Chair ceremony dates back to 1875, a decade after the close of the American Civil War when it was used in Masonic Lodges to pay tribute to those who did not return from the war. Since then it has been used by many Lodges at Remembrance Day to pay homage to those Brother Masons who fell during WWI, WWII, and other wars; or it may be adapted to remember Past Masters, Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Personnel, EMS and other first responders.
Prior to the ceremony the guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Junior Warden, Mark Sawa-Szostak. Following the meal everyone retired upstairs at the Masonic Lodge where the Worshipful Master, David Neville, led the Officers in the rendering of the solemn ceremony.
A chair was draped in black and placed in the center of the Lodge room and after a Masonic apron and acacia sprig were placed on the chair, members, family and friends placed memorabilia on the chair to honor and remember their fallen comrades and brothers. Some of the items placed on the chair in remembrance were a Marine’s helmet, a WWI equipment belt, a Firefighter helmet, a Naval and Air Force cap, a Vietnam war hat, a Police Badge, and a Paramedic ID Card.