Brethren, as I continue to learn our ritual, I am reminded of the time when my fifth-grade teacher had the entire class memorize the first two lines of the Declaration of Independence. In middle school, my history teacher had us watch the film version of the Broadway musical comedy “1776”. If you haven’t seen it, I must say it was quite entertaining. It was produced in 1972 and directed by Peter H. Hunt.
The setting takes place in the days leading up to July 4, 1776, Continental Congressmen John Adams and Benjamin Franklin coerce Thomas Jefferson into writing the Declaration of Independence as a delaying tactic as they try to persuade the American colonies to support a resolution on independence. As George Washington sends depressing messages describing one military disaster after another, the businessmen, landowners and slave holders in Congress all stand in the way of the Declaration, and a single "nay" vote will forever end the question of independence. Large portions of spoken and sung dialog are taken directly from the letters and memoirs of the actual participants.
My favorite character in this musical was Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was an inventor, writer, scientist, Freemason, and founding father of the United States of America.
Most individuals recognize Benjamin Franklin as one the United States’ most influential Founding Fathers, however, many do not realize that he was also a Freemason. In 1730, he joined the Masonic Lodge of St. John in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By 1734, his hard work and dedication led him to the highest rank within his organization: Grand Master. That year, Franklin also published the first Masonic book printed in America, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, which was produced in Philadelphia. Devoted to Freemasonry, Franklin remained an active member for over sixty years until his death in 1790 at the age of 84.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth of seventeen children. He attended the Boston Latin School until he decided to pursue a career as a journalist. Ending his formal education, he went to work as an apprentice printer for his brother, James Franklin: the creator of the first independent newspaper in the American colonies. At the age of twenty-four, Benjamin was hired by the Pennsylvania Gazette, where he was able to both publish and write editorials for the local community. One of Benjamin’s defining characteristics was his seemingly insatiable desire for knowledge. He was driven by a love of learning that ultimately led him to become one of the best writers, statesmen, and scientists of his day. In 1776, he was sent to Paris to serve as America’s diplomat to France. In France, he joined and became the Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge in Paris.
Brother Franklin held deep respect for the institution of Freemasonry. He explained his trust of Freemasons to his skeptical mother in a letter: “I assured her that they are in general a very harmless sort of people and have no principles or practices that are inconsistent with religion and good manners.” He respected his Brothers for their peaceful ways, strong morals, and dedication to self-betterment. Benjamin Franklin also possessed a strong faith in God, “the Great Father,” and worked towards a universal Brotherhood of all mankind.
In closing, as Freemasons, much has been given to us, and much will be expected of us. As Guardians of the Light revealed to us, we must strive to enlighten the hearts and minds of all those we encounter in the daily round –at home, in the neighborhood, in the workplace, and in the community –not by words, but by deeds –conscious acts of thoughtfulness and kindness. Our high calling as men and as Masons is to leave our world just a little better than when we found it.
Until next month, take care, God Bless and be safe!!!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Trenton Cyrus #5 WM
FROM THE EAST
Masonic Jewelry is worn by members of the craft to exemplify the feelings of universal brotherhood which Freemasonry both teaches and embraces across the world. Many new members of the fraternity see other brothers wearing Masonic jewelry such as Masonic recognition pins, Masonic rings, Masonic cufflinks, a Masonic pocket watch and other variations of Freemason jewelry and wonder what the different Masonic symbols on it, mean.
There is no requirement to wear Freemason jewelry within the craft. As an unwritten rule, each brother chooses and purchases his own according to his own taste and his budget. Some lodges, however, do order custom lapel pins with their lodge name and number on them for their members. The reason Freemasons wear Masonic craft-related jewelry is because they not only enjoy the camaraderie of being part of the fraternity, but are proud of its long history, honorable reputation and charitable causes.
Within Blue Lodge Freemasonry, there are 3 degrees, Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. Once a man becomes a Master Mason, he may choose to purchase a Master Mason ring from a reputable jeweler. In our lodge, I am sure RW Vecere Sr. and Brother Vecere Jr. can help you out if you are looking for one.
Craft lodge jewelry often displays the square and compasses symbol, however Masonic lapel pins display a vast array of Masonic symbols, such as the Masonic trowel, Euclid's 47th Proposition pin, officer pins with their officer jewels upon them, the Masonic apron and many, many others.
Most (not all) Past Masters wear Past Master pins, and/or Past Master rings signifying their having held the rank of Worshipful Master of their lodge. Past Master jewelry is always in high demand.
Each appendant body within Freemasonry has their own symbolic jewelry representing their specific affiliation. After becoming a Master Mason, some Freemasons choose to join the Scottish Rite, one of the appendant bodies. After passing the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite, (Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry), members typically wear Scottish Rite rings which display the double-headed eagle and/or Yod.
Others choose to join the York Rite, another of the appendant bodies. Upon becoming a Knights Templar, members may wear Knights Templar rings. In some countries, Knights Templar is part of the York Rite. In others, it is a separate order which stands on its own.
Members of the Order of DeMolay: A Masonic youth group for boys between the ages of 12 and 21, which was founded in 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri by Frank S. Land, a Freemason. Members of DeMolay wear DeMolay pins and other DeMolay jewelry.
Rainbow Girls: The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, founded in 1922 as a Masonic youth group for girls between the ages of 11 and 21, wear Rainbow Girls pins, pendants and earrings.
Eastern Star: The Order of the Eastern Star, O.E.S., was created by Dr. Rob Morris, a Boston lawyer, in 1850. In 1866, Dr. Morris turned the work over to Robert Macoy, who went on to establish its chapters and ritual. Eastern Star members are both men and women who have a Master Mason within their immediate family. They wear Eastern Star jewelry such as earrings, pendants and Eastern Star rings or lapel or breast pins representing the title they have attained (past or present) within the O.E.S. organization.
Shrine Jewelry: The Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, commonly called Shriners, was established in 1870 in the United States by Dr. Walter M. Fleming, M.D. and William J. Florence. Shriners wear fez pins, Shriner rings and Shrine pins.
Since in most jurisdictions it is a requirement of membership within Shrine that the man first be a Master Mason, it is also quite common to see a Shriner with a Shrine ring on one hand and his Master Mason ring on the other.
There are many more appendant bodies within Freemasonry than are discussed here. Each have their own symbolic emblems upon their Masonic jewelry and members choose to proudly wear them. Until next month, take care, God Bless and be safe!!!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Trenton Cyrus #5 WM
Did you know Charles Lindbergh was a Master Mason? Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 4, 1902. His early years were spent in Little Falls, Minnesota, where his father was a politician, where Charles attended school, but only sporadically. Because of a peculiar law, he was able to receive his diploma in 1918. He wanted to enlist in the Army Air Corps, but at the insistence of mother, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin. He stayed there just over a year. His interests concerned automobiles, machinery, guns, and motorcycles.
He said goodbye to his mother when he was 20 and on March 22, 1922, joined a flying school conducted by the Nebraska Aircraft Company in Lincoln. He invested $500 in flying lessons. He was a natural. After only seven hours of instruction, he was qualified enough to join a barnstorming and stunt team as a handyman, mechanic, wing walker, and pilot. He became known as "Daredevil Lindbergh," the man who was able to hang by his teeth from a wing.
In St. Louis, Lindbergh sought "light." He applied to Keystone Lodge No. 243, A.F.&A.M. for the degrees in Freemasonry. His petition was approved. On June 9, 1926 he was Initiated an Entered Apprentice; Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft on October 20, 1926; and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on December 15, 1926. He later became a member of St. Louis Chapter No. 22, National Sojourners.
As time went by, Lindbergh's frustration grew. It appeared others would beat him to the "prize." But a series of misfortunes plagued those who might have won. Finally, he found the Ryan Aeronautical Company willing to build a plane to his specifications. In February 1927, he traveled to San Diego to personally supervise the building of "The Spirit of St. Louis."
It was built. On May 10, 1927, Lindbergh left San Diego, stopped at St. Louis, then landed at Curtis Field, Long Island, New York. He had established another record. He had flown from coast to coast in a mere 21 hours and 20 minutes.
At 7:52 A.M. on May 20, 1927, The Spirit of St. Louis took off from Roosevelt Field, New York. Thirty-three and one-half hours later he landed near Paris, France. His average speed was a remarkable 107.5 miles per hour. His altitude varied from 10,000 feet to 10 feet above the water.
The solo Atlantic crossing had made Lindbergh wealthy and famous, but he didn't rest on these laurels. He continued to work to build the image of aviation. He made a spectacular tour by air of 75 American cities. One of these cities was St. Louis. There he was greeted by the members of his Masonic Lodge.
From the records of Keystone Lodge No. 243 comes the account of the "Lindbergh Night." It took place on February 15, 1928 and will long be remembered by those Freemasons who were not yet born. Those who were there passed along to those who came later the triumph of that evening.
More than 300 Masons were present, including Grand Master Anthony F. Ittner, when the Lodge opened at 7:30 P.M. Because it wasn't certain that Lindbergh could be present, the Master Mason Degree was conferred by "The Boosters," a highly acclaimed ritualistic team.
Charles Lindbergh did make it and was escorted into the Lodge. The Master warmly greeted this distinguished member, related with pride many of Lindbergh's accomplishments, and praised him for his service to his fellowman.
Soon after this reception, Lindbergh made an air tour of Central and South America. He must have been welcomed by Freemasons along the way, because Keystone Lodge received a letter from Lodge Libertad No. 20 of the Gran Logia de la Republica Dominicana dated April 10, 1928: "Dear Brothers: In this same mail we are sending a picture of the act of investing Brother CHARLES A. LINDBERGH, of that Lodge with the honor of Honorary Member of our Lodge Libertad No. 20.”
On May 27, 1929, Lindbergh married Anne Morrow. In an effort to protect their privacy, he built a home in Hopewell, New Jersey. It was from there that their 20-month-old son, Charles, was kidnaped and murdered in March, 1932. This event changed their lives. To what extent no one will ever know.
At the age of 72 he left this earth, but the accomplishments of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., Master Mason, aviator, scientist, husband and father will live on. Until next month, take care, God Bless and be safe!!!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Trenton Cyrus #5 WM