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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Knights of Malta: Past and Present

Within the Commandery of Knights Templar, there are conferred 3 chivalric orders: the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Order of Malta, and the Order of the Temple. The Order of Malta is an order which emphasizes the lesson of faith. The pass degree of the Mediterranean Pass, or Knight of St. Paul prepares the candidate for the Order of Malta by introducing the lesson and example of the faithful martyr of Christianity. After passing through the preparatory degree of the Mediterranean Pass (which surrounds the story of Paul on the island of Malta from which this Order receives its name), the candidate solicits himself to become a member of the Order of Malta. This ceremony teaches the history of the Maltese Order as inheritors of the crusading Knights Hospitaller. The preparatory degree emphasizes the need of faith while the lessons of the Order express examples of love, mercy, and the unfearing and faithful martyrdom of Christianity. The body is called a Priory and the conferral of this order is presided over by a Prior.

It is important to note that the Order of Malta that started in the medieval ages still exists today, but the Order of Malta conferred in the Commandery only commemorates the medieval knights until their time in Malta from which they took their name. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, headquartered in Rome, is the only valid continuation of the medieval Knights Hospitallers and Knights of Malta. There are a variety of different groups who take the name of Order of Malta, but used the name out of inspiration and commemoration. The Masonic order only follows the Knights of Malta until the 16th century with their famous battle against the Ottoman Empire.


The candidate, going through the Masonic Order of Malta, is given only a brief history of the original medieval knighthood. While we Masons commemorate this order it is important to understand the history and see how the order evolved over the years. A proper understanding of history will give us better insight and guidance as men, as Masons, and as Knights.


History of the Order


The common history, covered here, will take us from its legendary founding in the 11th century to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

Today known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, or better known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), is a Catholic-based religious order and one of the world's oldest surviving orders of chivalry.

In 623 AD, Abbot Probus was commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to build a hospital to care for and treat pilgrims in the Holy Land. This hospital was enlarged in 800 AD by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, and added a library to it. In 1005, Caliph Al Hakim destroyed this among other Christian buildings in Jerusalem. In 1021, Caliph Ali az-Zahir of Egypt, the Seventh Caliph of the Fātimids, took over governance of the Holy Land. In 1023, he gave permission to merchants from Amalfi (Italy) to rebuild the Hospital in Jerusalem. This hospital was located near the Abbey of St. Mary of the Latins. This hospital was served by Benedictine monks. After the First Crusade, the hospital would be expanded by the efforts of a monk referred to as "Brother Gerard," who is said to have been a native of southern Italy.


On February 15, 1113, the order was formally named the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem and recognized by the Papacy with the issuance of the Papal Bull "Paschal II." There original goal was not militaristic, but only medicinal; it wouldn't be for several decades (circa 1200 AD) that existing documentation shows that knights were being used as escorts for pilgrims as well as in battle against the Saracens. The Knights Hospitallers were originally led by a "Master of the Hospital", but this would change in 1267 to "Grand Master" who was elected to serve for life with the permission of the Pope.


By donation by appreciative patients and the efforts of Gerard, the Hospitallers grew. But, as they grew, so did the number of patients and pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. There was enough demand that the Hospitallers expanded to include a class of knights who would escort and protect pilgrims throughout the Holy Land. Along with the class of knights, the order also employed two others: a chaplain class and infirmary class.


The knights were themselves also again divided into two classes: secular knights and professed knights. The secular knights would only serve for a short period while the professed knights took vows of permanent allegiance to the Hospitaller order. These knights were led by an officer known as a "Marshal." Fighting alongside the knights, but not coming from noble stock were "Turcopeles" and these were supervised by an officer called "Turcopiliers."

The Hospitaller's rivals, the Knights Templar, were known for their famous uniform of a white mantle emblazoned with a red cross. To differentiate themselves, the Hospitallers wore a black mantle with a white cross except in battle when they wore a red mantle with a white cross, which uniform was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1248.

Eventually the Holy Land was lost and the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell to the Muslims led by the Sultan Salah ad-Din (or Saladin), founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Jerusalem fell to Saladin in 1187 and the Hospitallers fled to Margat, then to Acre in 1197, which fell in 1291. When Acre fell, the Hospitallers fled to the coastal town of Limassol on the island of Cyprus. Most likely due to the politics of the Kingdom of Cyprus and wishing to be independent, the Grand Master, Guillaume de Villaret, made plans of acquiring the island of Rhodes as their new domain. This island rests just off of what is now Turkey. While Guillaume de Villaret made the plans for Rhodes, it was his successor, Fulkes de Villaret, who executed the plans.


On August 15th, 1309, the island was surrendered to the Knights Hospitallers and essentially came to rule as an independent state with all the rights of privileges that belong to a sovereign state. With the control of Rhodes the knights also gained control of smaller surrounding islands. The acquisition of this island changed the mission and operations of the Knights Hospitaller who also became to be known as the Knights of Rhodes.


There were very few pilgrims on the island, and with the dissolution of the Knights Templar, the order became more militaristic with most of its battles taking place on the sea rather than land. In 1334, the Knights of Rhodes defeated Andronicus III Palaeologus, the Byzantine Emperor, who still claimed to own the island of Rhodes. In 1440, Az-Zahir Sayf ad-Din Jaqmaq, the Sultan of Egypt attempted to attack the Knights of Rhodes, but the island had been strongly fortified so the forces were rebelled and a naval battle followed without either side gaining a decisive victory. This Sultan attacked Rhodes again by siege in 1444, but this ends after 40-days.


On May 29th, 1453, the tides would start to turn against the Knights of Rhodes. On this date, the Ottoman Turks under Mehmed II captured Constantinople. With the Byzantine Empire gone and the Ottoman Empire established the Knights of Rhodes became an important aspect of the security for Christians and merchants in the Mediterranean, particularly against Barbary or Ottoman pirates. It is also said that they committed acts of piracy themselves against Muslim ships and ports, particularly along the North African coastline.


Seeking to unseat the Knights of Rhodes, Mahomet II attacked the island in 1480, but this attack failed. Under the governance of Suleiman (II) the Magnificent, the island was attacked by an armada of around 400 ships and an army composed of around 150,000 men while the Knights of Rhodes consisted of only 7,000 knights. The Knights of Rhodes were able to hold up for 6-months, but their supplies ran out and so on December 22nd, 1522, the knights surrendered to the Ottomans. So impressed by their bravery, Suleiman decided to spare their lives and even had his own ships carry the survivors to Sicily. Due to his valiant conduct and leadership during the siege, and even in the face of defeat, the Grand Master, Philippe de Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, was proclaimed a Defender of the Faith by Pope Adrian VI.


Until 1530, the Knights Hospitallers (or formerly Knights of Rhodes), were homeless. They sought assistance from the monarchs of Europe, but with the loss of the Holy Land and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, no one was willing to listen. Finally in 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain, with the approval of Pope Clement VIII, gave the order the island of Malta. In return, the knights would have to give an annual payment of a Maltese falcon to the Viceroy of Sicily on All Souls Day. For getting the island, the order promised to resume its previous mission of securing safe passage for Christian merchants through the Mediterranean Sea and fighting back against the Muslim pirates that infested the waters.


It was from this period, that the order would be known as the Order, or Knights, of Malta and started to wear the famous Maltese cross. The 8-points of the cross are said to represent the 8 obligations and aspirations:

Live in Truth
Have Faith
Repent of sins
Give proof of humility
Love justice
Be merciful
Be sincere
Endure persecution
With the acquisition of much of the Templar property and the general growth of the order, the holdings increased and were so organized. They were organized into "tongues" or nations (Aragon, Auvergne, Castile, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Provence). Each of these was supervised by a Prior; if there was more than one priory in the tongue, by a Grand Prior. On the island of Malta, the resident knights of each tongue were headed by a Bailli. Each tongue was divided into Priories who were composed of Bailwicks which were comprised of Commanderies

The return of this order to the Mediterranean and their actions against Muslims enraged Suleiman, who had shown them mercy on Rhodes. He mustered all the strength of the Ottoman Empire that he could afford and set sail for the Maltese archipelago; had the Ottomans taken the island of Malta this would give them a launching point for invasions into Western Europe. He threw his might against the Knights of Malta on May 18th, 1565. The Turks fought with monstrous ferocity, but the knights were able to repel several of their attacks and maintain control over most of the island. By August the Knights numbers were dwindling though. Some knights suggested abandoning the island, but the Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette refused to follow such ideas. On the 23rd of August, the Turks attempted, what would be, there last great assault on the Maltese fortifications. The Knights of Malta were able to keep fortifications strong by working day and night, and even the wounded had to sometimes take part in battles. The Ottomans were not spared from the troubles as disease was spreading through the overcrowded quarters and supplies were starting to run short. The morale was also diminishing because of the ability of the Knights to hold off such a stronger Turkish force. Sicilian reinforcements started to arrive in September in Mellieħa Bay. The Ottomans didn't realize that the reinforcements were a small force and retreated on September 8th. This would immortalize the Knights of Malta, but would eventually cause problems for the order.

Once the Ottomans had retreated, it was time to rebuild the cities that had been destroyed. The old capitol city had been destroyed so a new one was erected which was named Valletta in member of the Grand Master who had weathered the Turkish siege.


The Protestant Reformation


Spiritually, the Order of Malta was subservient only the Pope and with the 16th century, came the Protestant Reformation. This Reformation would cause lasting political and religious changes that would affect Europe that are still seen today.


The Protestant Reformation was a movement initially aimed and reforming the Catholic Church, but this was not the first time this occurred. Some like Jon Wycliffe attempted to make reforms and stop what they saw as abuses of power. The Protestant Reformation is formally recognized to have started with the publication of the "95 Theses" by Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk. This publication challenged some of the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. This movement spread throughout Europe and the prospects of reforming the church faded so the reformers were forced to separate from the Catholic Church. Many different denominations popped up throughout Europe. In the German states, Lutheranism had become a prominent religion which would cause a rift between the northern and southern German states; Germany would not become a unified state until after Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In Switzerland you see the rise of Calvinism and in England you see the rise of the Anglican Church under the reign of Henry VIII.


Fights between Protestantism, Catholicism, and the Vatican's influence on secular rule (among other things) would lead to the Thirty Years War and to the Peace of Westphalia. The Thirty Years War was one of the most destructive conflicts on the continent and included most of the European powers. Initially sparked over religious practices, it started to turn into a fight between the French and the Hapsburgs. In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia would be signed which resulted in Protestants being allowed to continue religious practices within their state, marked the decline of feudalism, the rise of the Bourbon dynasty, the Hapsburg supremacy stopped, and the decline of influence of the Catholic Church in states by establishing the rights of sovereignty of a state. This would change how states interacted with one another and cause grievances for future wars


It is during this time that Protestant versions of the Order of Malta were established in England, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, France, and Austria. We also see that monarchs and states that were previously Catholic and were now Protestant stopped giving donations to the Catholic Order of Malta. This is also around the time that the Masons no longer track the history of the Order of Malta. The Protestant Reformation would cause the Order of Malta to lose footing in England and northern Germany, adopt new ways of income, and ultimately their ties to the Catholic Church would spell the end of their time on the island of Malta.


The Post Reformation Era


The Order of Malta continued to operate in the Mediterranean as a counter to the Muslim pirate and merchants. In 1571 combined their fleets with Charles V and several other European powers to attack and devastate the Turkish navy at the Battle of Lepanto. This battle took place on October 7th, 1571, on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth (western Greece). This victory would virtually destroy the Ottoman navy and prevent any further spread of the Ottoman Empire into Western Europe.

The Knights of Malta continued to construct fortresses, watch towers, churches, hospitals, and other buildings on the island. The main hospital was massive and also contained schools for studying anatomy, surgery, and pharmacy. As mentioned above, a new capitol named Valletta was started in 1566. It was designed by a military engineer named Francesco Laparelli then finished in 1571 by Ġlormu Cassar. Even with all of these projects, the relationship between the knights and natives were still poor as the latter felt they were treated as second class citizens.


In a time where religious and secular control of the Catholic Church was starting to decline, it is not surprised to see that the Grand Master of the Order of Malta was granted the status of "Prince of the Holy Roman Empire" in 1607, and a few decades later the Grand Master was awarded ecclesiastic equality with cardinals.


Their relative power in the Mediterranean, the victory against the Ottoman Turks in 1565 and 1571, and the dissolution of their rivals, the Templars, seems to have given the Maltese order an inflated ego. Financially they were declining, but this only encouraged them to start plundering and which led to idleness and the practicing of licentious habits. Soon discipline among the ranks degraded and members of the Order started selling their services to other navies for a price; discipline became so degraded that, in 1581, the Grand Master, Jean de la Cassière, was made prisoner by his own knights. The French Navy was the most common destination for Knights of Malta, which is ironic seeing that the French had trade agreements with the Ottoman Empire, the sworn enemy of the Order of Malta. Soon the Order of Malta was accused of committing acts of piracy, even against Christians. The crimes committed by the Knights of Malta would be another nail in their coffin.


The French National Assembly in 1789, by decree, abolished the Order of Malta in France, and, by 1792, the French government seized their assets and propertyThe Order of Malta was headquartered on the island of Malta until June 12th, 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte captured the island during his conquest to Egypt. This may not have been the intent of Napoleon, but the Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim refused to allow Napoleon's ships to enter the Maltese port en mass. He laid siege and captured the island within a day. The Maltese Order was against dispersed. The island was going to be returned to the Order in 1802 with the Treaty of Amiens, but in 1814 the Treaty of Paris gave the island of Malta to the British Empire.

The Order found strong support in Russia, most likely due to the presence it had had in the Imperial Russian Navy. On November 24th, 1798, Paul I, Emperor of Russia, was elected as the new Grand Master, after the abdication of the previous Grand Master. He created an additional Grand Priory to the Roman Catholic one known as "Russian Grand Priory" which dwarfed the rest of the Order. Because of the loss of the Maltese island and the Protestant Reformation, income from European sources had dwindled and most of their income was now coming from Russian. The problem was that Paul's election as Grand Master was never approved by the Papacy, which made Paul the de facto rather than de jure Grand Master of the Order. The Papacy removed the position of Grand Master after the problem over Paul and until 1879 the Order was governed by Lieutenants. The position of Grand Master was restored by Pope Leo XIII in 1879 which he bestowed upon Geschi di Sancta Croce.



It was in 1834, during the time of the Lieutenants, that the Order of Malta was headquartered in Rome. It was here that the original work of the order, hospital work, became their main concern once again; losing their military side except for the traditional attire. In the Crimean War and WWI, they contributed to hospital and relief efforts on a large scale which only intensified during WWII. Today the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) has a presence in over 120-countries, with 12 Grand Priories and Sub-Priories and 47 national Associations, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centers, daycare centers, first aid corps, and specialist foundations. In 1994, SMOM was given the same status as the Red Cross as an Observer Member of the UN.

The Ancient and Masonic Order of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta

The Masonic Order of Malta was most likely introduced into the United States from Scotland or Ireland along with the Order of the Temple. According to Francis J. Scully in his work, "History of the Grand Encampment Knights Templar of the United States of America," stated that:

"The original work of the Knights of Malta was introduced into New England along with the Order of the Temple. In the early years it probably consisted only of a series of questions and answers and the signs of recognition which were communicated to the candidate. Later on, the ritual was revised and elaborated."

Reading through the first volume of this work, he cites J.W.S. Mitchell who stated the following of the Order of Malta:
“The degree, so called of Malta, or St. John of Jerusalem, crept in we suppose, by means of a bungler, who, not knowing enough of the ritual to confer it properly satisfied himself by simply addressing a few words in the ceremony of dubbing; and thus, by the addition of a few signs and words but imperfectly understood, constituted a Knight Templar also a Knight of Malta, and so the matter stands to this day.”
It was through the efforts Sir Knights Thomas Smith-Webb and Henry Fowle that it continued to exist as an appendant Order in America, primarily in Massachusetts. When a national body, now known as the Grand Encampment, was formed in 1816, the Constitution adopted stated that the rule of succession be: “Knight of the Red Cross, Knight Templar and Knight of Malta.” Today it falls second in line in the succession of conferral, but this was not always so. Some thought that it should be a separate degree, some thought it was an appendant order to follow the Order of the Temple, and some thought that one receiving the Order of the Temple was automatically a Knight of Malta as well. Until the 20th century the Order of Malta was a point of contention in American Templary. Debates ensued for years and Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment gave their differing opinions on the matter. In 1865, the Grand Master, Benjamin B. French pushed for the Order of Malta to be second in line of succession, but the special committee on this subject did not want to introduce "new difficulties" so they proposed that "and Knight of Malta" be added. In 1874, the Committee on Digest of Templar Law inferred that the Order of Malta should be conferred as a separate Order. The Grand Master at the time, John Q.A. Fellows, agreed stating, "The true work of the Order is really sublime and accords well with the ceremonies of that of Knights Templar.”

At the 1880 Triennial, the Grand Master Vincent L. Hulburt held an unfavorable view of the Order of Malta when he stated:
“It is not pretended that the Order of Knight Templar and the Order of Knight of Malta bear any historic relation to each other. In origin and purpose they are distinct and dissimilar. Does the Order of the Templar require the adoption of this alien adjunct? Is it so imperfect, so wanting in all the essentials to secure the admiration, the love, and the loyalty of its champions, that it must call in the aid of this foreign elements to give it strength and permanent success? Let the experience of every valiant Sir Knight of this vast convocation furnish the answer. Giving every degree of every grand and order of Masonry all the merit it can justly claim, it remains true that Knight Templarism stands unapproachable and alone, the colossal monument of human aspiration and heroism and faith. Above all the shadows and vapors of our selfish life it rises adorned with all that art, inspired by genius, could contribute; its tablets gleaming with the names that have made its history immortal; its summit, bathed in the prophetic splendor of the dawn and the high noon of consummation, surmounted by the cross, the sign of the invincible spirit and purpose that reared and consecrated, a pledge of final triumph. There is no yearning for human sympathy, no plea for real brotherhood, no prayer for human progress and freedom and ultimate redemption, that does not find an answer here. Let this divine form stand unaided to challenge veneration and worship; let it not be obscured by adventitious props and aids. At most, we should only allow the attributes of the Order of Malta to be conferred, as heretofore; and I trust that the Grand Encampment will plainly and finally declare that the Order of Malta is not required as an adjunct of Templarism.”
Many feared that the Order of Malta being full ceremony may overshadow the ritual of the Order of the Temple. It would take until 1919 for the Order of Malta to be given full recognition as an individual order to be conferred in a Commandery of Knights Templar. So that it didn't eclipse the Order of the Temple certain changes in the ritual were adopted at that Triennial and in 1934 the Constitution was revised to reflect the changes as follows:
“The Orders shall be conferred in the following succession: Red Cross, Knight of Malta, and Knight Templar.”
While the Masonic Order of Malta is not tied to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, we still commemorate a common history, that of the Knights Hospitaller who as we see became known as the Knights of Malta. All Masonic Knights of Malta should remember the allegorical elements and important lessons taught in this Order of Knighthood.

References

1. Chivalric Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite Freemasonry: http://www.yorkrite.com/degrees/#3


2. History of the Knights of Malta. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand York Rite Bodies of Tennessee: http://www.tngrandyorkrite.org/index.php?what_is_kt=Y


3. Knights Hospitaller. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Hospitaller


4. Knights Hospitaller. (n.d.). Retrieved from Middle Ages: http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/knights-hospitaller.htm

5. Meij, H. (n.d.). The Knights of Malta. Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/articles/history/orders_files/knights_of_malta/knights_of_malta.htm


6. Moeller, C. (1910). "Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem." In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07477a.htm (July 29, 2014)

7. Protestant Reformation. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation

8. Scully, F. J. (1952). History of the Grand Encampment Knights Templar of the USA. Greenfield, IN, USA: Wm. Mitchell Printing Co.

9. Snell, M. (n.d.). The Knights Hospitaller - Defenders of Sick and Injured Pilgrims. Retrieved from About: http://historymedren.about.com/od/hospitallers/p/hospitallers.htm

10. The Degree of Knight of Malta (Order of Malta). (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar_(Freemasonry)#The_Degree_of_Knight_of_Malta_.28Order_of_Malta.29


Friday, July 18, 2014

American Academy of Ophthalmology to Develop Knights Templar Eye Foundation Pediatric Ophthalmology Education Center

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is partnering up with the Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) to create an online resource dedicated to children's eye care. Made possible by grants from the KTEF, this center will provide ophthalmologists around the world with the latest information for treating children's eye diseases and disorders. 

According to Freemason Information:
An estimated 19 million children worldwide under the age of 15 are visually impaired, 1.4 million of whom are blind. Many cases of childhood blindness could be avoided with interventions using existing knowledge.
This center will provide information on-demand which could make the difference for the vision of a patient. Resources will include diagnostic and treatment guides, video guides on demonstrations and approaches, peer advice on cases and challenges, latest developments and standards, and guidance for pediatric practice management. This center is expected to launch in 2015. The executive editor will be Faruk Örge, M.D., Director of the Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland and Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs at the University Hospitals Eye Institute, Case Medical Center. The Deputy Executive Editor will be K. David Epley, M.D., a past President of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.


The Knights Templar Eye Foundation was incorporated in 1956, is sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, and ran by a Board of Trustees. The original mission of the KTEF was "to provide assistance to those who face loss of sight due to the need for surgical treatment without regard to race, color, creed, age, sex or national origin provided they are unable to pay or receive adequate assistance from current government agencies or similar sources and to provide funds for research in curing diseases of the eye." The mission has changed and on December 31, 2010, the Board of Trustees adopted a new mission statement "to improve vision through research, education, and supporting access to care." Grants from the KTEF have helped develop new, nonsurgical, treatments for strabismus (crossed eyes) and ophthalmologists have told us that our efforts in funding pediatric ophthalmology research have been the primary reason that there are fewer and fewer surgeries for strabismus. The KTEF annually announces its call for research grant applications. The KTEF invites eligible investigators to submit applications for pediatric ophthalmology research grants for the award period which normally runs from July 1 to June 30. From the applications received, the Scientific Advisory Committee recommends to the Trustees which requests should be funded. Since its inception, the KTEF has expended over $140 million on research, patient care, and education. Research grants totaling in excess of $23 million have been awarded to researchers working in the fields of pediatric ophthalmology and ophthalmic genetics.

Read more here: http://freemasoninformation.com/2014/07/american-academy-of-ophthalmology-to-develop-knights-templar-eye-foundation-pediatric-ophthalmology-education-center/

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

I hope everyone enjoys this 4th of July! In remembrance of our Founding Fathers and what they fought against here is the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. 
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. 
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: 
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Society of Blue Friars

Another Masonic body I ran into while at Masonic Week is the Society of Blue Friars (SBF). The SBF was established in 1932 by J. Raymond Shute II and whose purpose is to recognize Masonic authors. It is a small body, only inviting one new member each year (unless the membership drops below 20-members. The title of the members is "Friar", often designated by the initials "B.F." The word "Friar" comes from Old French "frere" meaning "brother". It is also significant to note that it was the Monks in the Middle Ages who wrote most of the books in those days.

This body is known as a Consistory and has no dues or fixed rituals, and only has 3 officers: the Grand Abbot, the Deputy Grand Abbot, and the Secretary General. The Grand Abbot serves as long as he likes and he is the one who appoints the Deputy Grand Abbot (often will be the Grand Abbot's successor) and Secretary-General. The Grand Abbot also has final say in who is selected as the new Friar each year and has the only authority to change the Regulations of the society. Abbot comes from the Greek word "abbas" meaning "father". Like the use of Friar, the term "Abbot" dates back to the monastic orders started in the Middle Ages and who was in charge of an monastery. The current officers are:
S. Brent Morris, Grand Abbot
Arturo de Hoyos, Deputy Grand Abbot
Richard E. Fletcher, Secretary-General
They meet once a year in a meeting that is open to all Masonic Brethren. This annual meeting takes place at Masonic Week which takes place in or around Washington DC each year (usually February). It is at this meeting that the new Friar is proclaimed and who is expected to deliver a research paper as proof of their knowledge. There have been a 100-members since its inception, the last being Alton Roundtree.

This group seems to be an elite group of Masonic researchers and writers. They have had as members many famous writers and historians such as Ray V. Denslow, Harold V.B.Voorhis, Arthur E. Waite, S. Brent Morris, Rex R. Hutchens, Arturo de Hoyos, and Pierre G. "Pete" Normand, Jr.

References

1. Abbot. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=abbot 

2. Bessel, P. M., & McLeod, W. (n.d.). Society of Blue Friars. Retrieved from Paul M. Bessel's Homepage: bessel.org/sbf.htm 

3. Friar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=friar 



4. Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Society of Blue Friars: http://www.societyofbluefriars.org/information.html 

5. Morris, S. D. (2006). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry. New York: Penguin Publisher. 

6. Regulations. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Society of Blue Friars: http://www.societyofbluefriars.org/regulations.html 

7. Society of Blue Friars. (2009, February 17). Retrieved from The Magpie Mason: http://themagpiemason.blogspot.com/2009/02/society-of-blue-friars.html

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rosslyn Chapel

Located on a hill above the Roslin Glen rests a stone puzzle, a medieval stone book of esoteric knowledge, known as Rosslyn Chapel. This building has always been a mystery and in recent years has been used in such works like "The DaVinci Code" which perpetuates theories that tie the Knights Templar and Freemasonry together. While there are many impressive structures of antiquity in Scotland, I consider Rosslyn Chapel to the finest example of architecture in the region. This building is unique though because so much of its surface is carved in some kind of carving and gives incite to the life and how religion played a part during the Middle Ages, something that seems obvious, but also lost on so many today. In traversing the chapel one can see the story of Adam & Eve, their expulsion from Eden, Isaac's sacrifice, the Birth of Christ, the Conception, the Birth of Christ, the Resurrection and Ascension, and several more.

Its official name is the Collegiate Chapel of Saint Matthew and was constructed by the Sinclair family; you will see the use of Sainteclaire, Saintclair, or Saint Clair when talking about the Sinclair family. The building was commenced on St. Matthew's Day, September 21st, 1446, by William Sinclair, 3rd Prince of Orkney and 1st Earl of Caithness, but some argue that 1446 was only the year that its construction was sanctioned by the Holy See in Rome while the ground wasn't broken until September 1456. The Sinclair family was a noble family was descended from Norman knights from the commune of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in northern France. William wished to build this college to celebrate the Divine Office throughout the day and night, spread spiritual and intellectual knowledge, and celebrate Holy Mass of the departed. In 1450, the chapel was dedicated as the "Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew." An endowment was established in perpetuity to pay for the maintenance upkeep, the pay for the priests, and their parochial duties. In 1484 William died and was buried in the chapel. The original plans for the chapel have never been found so it is not known whether or not that the chapel, in its current status, was the intention of William Sinclair.

After the Reformation of the 16th century, Catholic worship in the chapel ceased although the Sinclair family continued to be Catholics until the early 1700s; during the Reformation the altars of the Chapel were destroyed. Rosslyn Chapel was closed to public worship until 1861, but was a place of worship according to the rites of Scottish Episcopal Church.

The style of Rosslyn Chapel is Gothic by its use of flying buttresses, pointed arches, and ribbed vaults. This style of architecture originated in France around the 12th century and was primarily used with churches and cathedrals, but was seen in the building of castles, palaces, town halls, guild halls, and universities. This style allowed the buildings of the time to be built higher and draw the viewer's eye up to the Heavens. Like other religious buildings Rosslyn Chapel was supposed to be built in the shape of a Latin cross or cruciform, but was never completed. The foundations of a nave and transepts, neither one built, stretching out 90-feet and were thought to be abandoned after the death of William Sinclair. The chapel is 40-feet 8-inches high, 34-feet 8-inches wide, and 68-feet long.

The chapel is supported by 14 pillars that form an arcade of twelve pointed arches on three sides of the nave. The 3 pillars on the east side of the chapel are named, from north to south: Master Pillar, Journeyman Pillar, and the Apprentice Pillar. This wasn't always the names given to them, originally they were said to be called the Earl's Pillar, the Shekinah, and the Prince's Pillar. On the three pillars standing between the east aisle and the east chapel is a choir of thirteen angels with musical instruments, representing the host of God. Along with these famous pillars, you will also see a crypt and a multitude of carvings including Magical or Musical Cubes, Green Men, Ears of Corn, Seven Deadly Sins, Dance of Death, Knight on Horseback, and several more.

One of the most famous and beautiful pieces of architecture is today known as the Apprentice Pillar. The story behind the name of this pillar has some variations, but often goes as follows:
The Master was given a model by the patron, but the Master needed to go to Rome to see the original pillar that was said to have inspired the model's design. While he is gone his Apprentice has a dream where he sees the pillar's design. He constructs the pillar and when the Master returns sees that the Apprentice and has done his work whereupon he flies into a rage and kills the Apprentice by striking him upon the head with a mallet. As a reminder of this legend, the Master's face is carved in the corner opposite the pillar and is forced to gaze upon the Apprentice's Pillar for all time.
On the main beam resting across the top of the column there is found an inscription "Forte est vinum fortior est rex fortiores sunt mulieres super omnia vincit veritas" that translates into "Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are stronger still, but truth conquers all" which comes from 1 Esdras 3 & 4. The legend of this pillar has correlation with the Hiramic legend found in the ceremonies of the Symbolic or Blue Lodge. Some have hypothesized that with the Norman roots of the Sinclair family and the carvings around the top and base, that the Apprentice Pillar represents a root of the Yggdrasil tree, a cosmic tree that unites the worlds within Norse mythology.


Around the Chapel are found 213 cubes, or boxes, that protrude from pillars and arches with a variety of patterns of lines and dots etched into them. Some have endeavored to find meaning in them. There is a geometric pattern by those who study cymatics, or the study of visible sound and vibration, but no interpretation has been found yet. The father-and-son team of Thomas and Stuart Mitchell produced a tune which Stuart calls the Rosslyn Motet.


Another feature of the Chapel is the existence of "Green Men." The Green Men are carvings of human faces with greenery all around them, often growing out of their mouths. These are seen as pre-Christian in origin and symbolize the power of nature, fertility, and rebirth. There are more than 110 Green Men scattered all around the Chapel. Some believe that the vines sprouting from the mouth could symbolize the connection between nature and the human race.


One carving that has sparked theories of pre-Columbian visits to America by the Sinclair family is the appearance of ears of corn. Corn or maize was unknown in Europe at the time the Chapel was constructed and would not be cultivated there for centuries. Some scholars though state that these carvings are not corn but rather stylized depictions of wheat and/or lilies.


On the south aisle, there is a pair of lintels that represent the Seven Heavenly Virtues and the Seven Deadly Sins. Each depicts moral lessons which were often used throughout Middle Ages to teach good conduct among the faithful. One anomaly one will find is that Greed is depicted among the virtues and Charity is shown among the Sins.


The Angel holding the heart is thought to represent Robert I or more commonly known as Robert the Bruce, who was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329, and who is known for his leadership in the Wars for Scottish Independence. Sir Henry Sinclair and his brother William fought on the side of Robert in the famous Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. At Robert's death, two of Henry's sons were chosen to escort his heart to Jerusalem. The sons died in their attempts, but the heart is likely to represent the strong bond between the two families.


As a representation of the continual presence and power of death, there are carvings of people from all walks of life accompanied by a skeleton, by Death. This is meant to demonstrate the common doom of man, that no matter our station in life, we all will shed this mortal shell and succumb to the inevitable triumph of death.


Some believe that this knight represents William "the Seemly" Sinclair who was the first of his family to move to Scotland. William, according to legend, escorted Queen Margaret to Scotland. Queen Margaret was from Hungary and she would marry the first king of Scotland. For being the Queen's escort he was given barony of Rosslyn.


Hanging from the middle of the Lady Chapel is a carving of an 8-pointed star. The outer edge of this carving has a figure that depicts a part of the story of the birth of Christ: Virgin and child, the manger, the 3 Magi, and the 3 shepherds. A Lady Chapel is a smaller chapel inside a cathedral or church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.


There are many carvings of angels with musical instruments in the Lady Chapel, but one of them is playing a set of bagpipes. The history of the bagpipes goes back for centuries, but mention of them being in the British Isles doesn't occur until the end of the 14th century with the publication of The Canterbury Tales and specifically in Scotland around the mid-1400's so this carving could be one of the earliest depictions of them. These angels are playing music to celebrate the birth of Christ.


The ceiling is composed of 5 sections on which flowers such as daisies, lilies, roses, simple flower designs, and astrological bodies are depicted. These flower designs further continue to show a theme of nature that permeates the entire structure. The use of lilies and roses is also used to represent Christ and the Virgin Mary. Also on the roof can be found the carvings of stars, but among the stars there is a sun, a moon, and an image of Christ with his hand raised in blessing.

Repairs to Rosslyn Chapel are sparse and dots its history. It was in the late 1990's that it was recognized that the chapel was in serious need of repair. Rosslyn Chapel has existed over 550-years, a tribute to the skill of the stonemasons, but all of these years it has been exposed to Scottish weather which has left the interior damp which has led to a deterioration of the impressive work. In 1995 the Chapel Trust was formed who started an extensive conservation program whose works included the roof, the stone, the carvings, the stained glass windows, and the organ. In 1997, a steel canopy was erected to prevent further rain damage to the church and also give it a chance to dry out properly; this was taken down in 2011, when the major stonework repairs were completed. Along with the needed works, the Trust was able to have new lighting and heating installed along with a visitor center constructed. The costs to complete the restoration were around £13-million.

Some interesting things caught my eye while reading about the restoration program. The first is that during renovations of the rooftop pinnacle a beehive was found in a hidden chamber. The hive has been abandoned and sent to a local bee keeper for identification. The second is that three human skeletons were also found under a stone slab in the central aisle while work was done to install a new heating system. Some believe that locals who wanted to bury their relatives on consecrated laid these bodies under the slab during the Reformation when the chapel was abandoned.

Made famous by The DaVinci Code, the Rosslyn Chapel is tied to the Knights Templar. The Chapel was built around 150-years after the dissolution of the Templar Order, but many point to the carvings of two men astride a horse, an image tied to the Knights Templar, as evidence of Templar influence. There is a variety of Templar continuation myths, several of them concern the Templars hiding away in Scotland during the suppression of their order. There is little concrete evidence to support such a theory and in 2006 Robert Cooper, Curator of the Museum and Library of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, wrote the Rosslyn Hoax which dispels many of the myths concerning the Rosslyn Chapel, Freemasonry, and Knights Templar. Adding to the mystery of Rosslyn Chapel is the presence of a massive underground vault, or crypt, that was sealed off in 1690. This vault was accessible by a staircase in the rear of the chapel and was used as a burial place for many generations of Sinclairs. There are theories that the crypt contains the Holy Grail, the head of Christ, Holy Scrolls, the One True Cross, the Templar treasures, and the original crown jewels of Scotland.

This chapel is an amazing piece of impressive architecture. Although it is only theory, it has many aspects that appear to be Masonic, but this may be more due to our connection to operative Masonry as well as the influence of Biblical verses on both, the chapel and Freemasonry.

References

1. Blaskin, S. (2006, March 13). Episode 19 - Rosslyn Chapel. The Digital Freemason Podcast. 

2. Millar, A. H. (n.d.). Carvings. Retrieved from Electric Scotland: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/castles/04Carvings.pdf

3. Recent Work at Rosslyn Chapel. (2011, December 04). Retrieved from AOC Archaeology Group: http://www.aocarchaeology.com/news/recent-work-at-rosslyn-chapel

4. Researching. (n.d.). Retrieved from Rosslyn Chapel: http://www.rosslynchapel.org.uk/ 

5. Rosslyn Chapel. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosslyn_Chapel 

6. Sigler, C. (2006, March). Rosslyn Chapel. The Working Tools, 24-29. 

7. Sigler, C. (2007, August). Scotland - Rosslyn Chapel. The Working Tools magazine, 27-29.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The 2014 Grand Chapter of Idaho, Order of the Eastern Star

The Order of the Eastern Star (OES) is one of the largest fraternal organizations in the Masonic family in which both women with proper Masonic heritage and Master Masons may join. The degrees of this organization centers on the lives of the five Biblical heroines: Adah (Jephthah's daughter, from Judges), Ruth (the widow Mahlon), Esther (the wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus or Xerxes I), Martha (sister of Lazarus from the Gospel of John), and Electa (the "elected lady" mentioned in Second John). Each of these famous women represents one of the five principles of the Order: Fidelity, Constancy, Loyalty, Faith, and Love.


The emblem of this order is a five pointed star which is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Each point of the star represents one of the heroines mentioned above and is also emblematically represented by a specific symbol: Adah is represented by the blue point of the star and symbolizes the virtue of Fidelity. She is represented by the sword and veil. The yellow point of the star is the seat of Ruth who is symbolized by a sheaf of barley and represents the virtue Constancy and devotion to that which is righteous. The virtue of Loyalty is exemplified in the story of Esther who stands upon the white point of the star and is symbolized by the crown and scepter. The broken column symbolizes the mortality of man and the perseverance in trials as told in the story of Martha at the green point of the star. The elected lady or commonly known as Electa is placed upon the red point of the star which color is commonly used to represent martyrs as she stood by her faith in the face of persecution and is symbolized by the chalice.

The governance falls under the jurisdiction of the General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. Then under them are Grand Chapters and Chapters. From April 2013 to April 2014, I served my Chapter as Worthy Patron who serves as an adviser to the Worthy Matron, the presiding officer.

Last Saturday started the annual session Grand Chapter of Idaho, OES. Saturday was primarily for committee meetings, ritual competition (I took 2nd in the Signet Lecture), and membership banquet. The next day was dedicated to the memorial service, tribute to the Golden Stars (50+ year members), and to the Youth organizations. In the evening was the informal opening where I had the honor of carrying the POW/MIA flag during the procession. Monday morning was the start of the formal opening of Grand Chapter and I was asked to serve as Assistant Grand Sentinel which meant that I acted as Grand Sentinel in his absence, assist in proving the Grand Chapter, and guarding the doors into the room.

With Tuesday came the installation of the newly elected and appointed Grand Officers. It was an amazing installation ceremony and I got to see so many old friends that I haven't seen in a while. I'd like to congratulate Jan Brown, Worthy Grand Matron, and Dwain Valez, Worthy Grand Patron, on being chosen to lead the Grand Chapter for the next year. I had the pleasure with Art Shoemaker, Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master and Secretary for Tri-Valley College #178, to present Jane Bahr, who was my Worthy Matron, with the York Rite Sovereign College of North America's Diamond Award in recognition for outstanding and faithful service to Freemasonry.


I have been a member for 4.5-years and I have enjoyed the time. I always have a fun time with the Sisters and Brothers within the Order of the Eastern Star.

Friday, June 6, 2014

70th Anniversary of D-Day

Today marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The landings on the Normandy beaches was a part Operation Overlord, the operational code name for invading France. This was the largest seaborne invasion in history. This invasion was a major contribution to the liberation of France from Nazi control and the overall victory of the Allied forces in WWII. This operation took a great effort to pull off, training of millions of troops, gathering of supplies, and months of deception to fool the Germans as to when the date and location of the main Allied landings would occur. The weather was not ideal for the operation, but they could not stall any further for fear of being pushed back several weeks. Eisenhower chose Normandy as the location for invasion as it was the longest distance from England to France and he wanted to deceive the Germans. The 50-mile stretch of beach was divided into 5-sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword Beach (as seen below).

Prior to departure, following message was handed out to the troops:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Supreme Allied Commander

While 6:30am is the date commemorated on this day because it was the time when troops first started hitting the beaches, but operations began at midnight with thousands of airborne troops beginning to land further inland. The Allied forces diverted the attention of the Germans to fake paratrooper drop zones near Marigny, France, by using straw-filled and inflatable rubber dummy parachutists which weakened the defenses in the actual drop zones. They were fitted with explosive devices fused to detonate near the ground which gave the illusion of gunfire. Paratroopers begin to cut phone lines and knock down telephone poles. It should be noted that the weather caused many troubles for those landing and some lost their lives during the jump. At 1:00am landing crafts began to be lowered into the water, but it wouldn't be until 02:45am that men would load into them. According to Eric Broadhead, from the Durham Light Infantry heading for Gold Beach, sea sickness was a problem:
"The landing craft was rolling in every possible direction; the sea-sickness pills had failed. Lying still only made one feel worse."
By 03:09am German radar detects the Allied fleet and ordered shore batteries to prepare for invasion. Around a quarter to 4:00am, German E-boats (fast attack craft) depart to intercept the Allied fleet. At 04:30am the first P47s take off and at the same time the French town of St. Mère-Eglise was liberated by American paratroopers. This town was an important achievement because all the roads that came from Utah beach went through this town. At sunrise, around 05:20am, Allied bombers began to drop the first of their bombs on German targets and dropped so much munitions that the pilots could feel the concussion of their own bombs.


At 05:30am naval bombardment operations began, hitting the shore before Allied forces arrived, and receiving fire from German shore batteries. By 06:20am, Allied landing craft approach the beach. H-Hour, 06:30am, Allied forces start landing on the Omaha and Utah beaches. The German opposition was strong at Omaha beach and the Allied troops suffered heavy losses. The amount of dead bodies clogged the entry to the beaches that some leaders thought of abandoning further landings at beaches like Omaha. Out at sea, the USS Corry (a destroyer) was sunk due to heavy gunfire and mine damage.

Around 07:00am Army Rangers began their assault on Point-du-Hoc while the 70th Tank Battalion began to land at Utah beach. At 07:25am was H-Hour for Sword beach where the British 3rd Division began to land their troops. At 07:35am, British Engineering forces followed by infantry landed at Gold beach. Around this same time, Canadians started to land on Juno beach. The successes on the beach were aided by the amphibious tanks that were able to make it ashore.
"The German machine gunners in the dunes were stupefied to see a tank emerge from the sea. Some ran away or just stared, mouths wide open."

Sgt Leo Gariepy
At 08:30am, landing crafts began to launch armored assets onto Omaha beach. By 09:00am take over the Point-du-Hoc and held it for the rest of the day. For the next few hours troops continue to land at Omaha and Utah beaches and aided by gunfire from naval vessels. By the early afternoon Omaha beach was secured by Allied forces. Mid-afternoon the Panzer division was released by order from Hitler. In the early evening forces of the 3rd Canadian Division, North Nova Scotia Highlanders reach 5-kim inland; 1st Hussar tanks cross the Caen-Bayeux railway, 15-km inland; and Canadian Scottish link up with the 50th Division at Creully. By 7:00pm, General Charles L. Huebner, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division set up is command post on Omaha beach.

They key leaders in this monumental operation were Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and overall commander of forces going to France; General Bernard Montgomery who was in charge of all troops landing on the beach; the American troops landing on the beach were lead by General Omar Bradley and the British were lead by General Thomas Dempsey; Air Marshall Trafford Leigh was given supervision over all Allied Air Forces; and Bertram Ramsay, who was a British Admiral that was put in charge of Allied naval forces.

The Allies failed to achieve all of their goals on the first day, but gained a foothold onto mainland Europe that would expand over the coming months.


References

1. D-Day. (2011, February 7). Retrieved from National Museum of the US Air Force: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1512

2. D-Day Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from Quizlet: http://quizlet.com/20229103/d-day-fact-sheet-flash-cards/

3. D-Day Invasion Dummy. (2009, September 17). Retrieved from National Museum of the US Air Force: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=15559

4. D-Day Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2014, from Military.com: http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent1/?file=dday_timeline

5. June 6th 1944 Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2014, from History Learning Site: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/june_6th_1944_timeline.htm 

6. Normandy Landings. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings