Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!  I am on my way back from the East Coast and once I'm home it's time to relax for a few days before the York Rite Festival.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Time at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Well, I slept in and it was nice.  Since it was Sunday and most of the sights around the National Mall would be closed, I decided to just make the drive down to Alexandria, Virginia, to see the George Washington Masonic National Memorial

After a 2-hour drive, I finally came up a great sight.

The building is spectacular and driving up I had to stop and jump out to take pictures.


Once you climb the stairs and get through the large doors, you come to a large hall.

 George Washington at the Cornerstone ceremony of the National Capitol

St. John's Day Observance at the Old Christ Church in Philadelphia, PA

The tour guide talked to us about the history of the memorial and some of the more striking points are: 
  • That the building was built without ever going into debt, but because of this took around 60-years to complete
  • The statue of George Washington in the main hall is 17-ft and 7-tons, and they had to put it into the building by carrying it up the steps through the main entrance (through those pillars).

We toured the 4th floor - Museum, 5th floor - Royal Arch, 8th floor - Knights Templar, and 9th floor - Observatory Deck / Tall Cedars of Lebanon.

If you would like here, is a link to the interactive online tour.
George Washington, The Mason

George Washington joined the Masonic Lodge in Fredericksburg, Virginia at the age of 20 in 1752. His Masonic membership, like the others public titles and duties he performed, was expected from a young man of his social status in colonial Virginia. During the War for Independence, General Washington attended Masonic celebration and religious observances in several states. He also supported Masonic Lodges that formed within army regiments.

At his first inauguration in 1791, President Washington took his oath of office on a Bible from St. John's Lodge in New York. During his two terms, he visited Masons in North and South Carolina and presided over the cornerstone ceremony for the U.S. Capitol in 1793.

In retirement, Washington became charter Master of the newly chartered Alexandria Lodge No. 22, sat for a portrait in his Masonic regalia, and in death, was buried with Masonic honors.

Such was Washington's character, that from almost the day he took his Masonic obligations until his death, he became the same man in private that he was in public. In Masonic terms, he remained "a just and upright Mason" and became a true Master Mason. Washington was, in Masonic terms, a “living stone” who became the cornerstone of American civilization. He remains the milestone others civilizations follow into liberty and equality. He is Freemasonry's “perfect ashlar” upon which countless Master Masons gauge their labors in their own Lodges and in their own communities. 

A Timeline of George Washington's Masonic Activities
November 4, 1752 - Initiated as Entered Apprentice at Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
March 3, 1753 - Passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft at Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4
August 4, 1753 - Raised a Master Masaon at Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4.
December 28, 1778 - Marched in a Masonic procession in celebration of Saint John the Evangelist Day
June 24, 1779 - Celebrated Saint John the Baptist Day with American Union Military Lodge at West Point, New York
December 27, 1779 - Celebrated Saint John the Evangelist Day with American Union Military Lodge at Morristown, New Jersey
October - Reportedly visited Lodge No. 9 at Yorktown, VA with General Lafayette after defeat of British General Cornwallis
Brothers Watson and Cassoul of Nantes, France present Washington with exquisite silk Masonic apron, acknowledged by letter dated August 10
June 24, 1782 - St. John the Baptist celebration - Marked with American Union Military Lodge at West Point, New York.
December 27, 1782 - St. John the Evangelist Day - Celebrated with Solomon's Lodge No. 1, Poughkeepsie, New York.
June 24, 1784 - St. John the Baptist celebration - Marked with Alexandria Lodge, Alexandria, Virginia
June 24, 1784 - Made an honorary member of Alexandria Lodge No. 39 (Now Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22) Alexandria, Virginia
August 1784 - Presented a Masonic apron made by Madame de Lafayette to General and Bro. de Lafayette
February 12, 1785 - Walked in Masonic funeral procession for Bro. William Ramsay at Alexandria, Virginia
April 28, 1788 - Named Charter Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 when a new charter from the Grand Lodge of Virginia was issued. Unanimously re-elected Master December 20, 1788 for one year.
Elected honorary member of Holland Lodge No. 8, New York, NY
April 30- Inaugurated President of the United States using Bible from St. John's Lodge No. 1, New York
April 15, 1791 - Welcomed by members of St. John's Lodge No. 2, New Bern, NC
May 1791 - Received the greetings of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina by General Mordecai Gist, Grand Master, Charleston, SC
September 18 Acting Grand Master - Laid the cornerstone for the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C. 1794 Sat for William Williams, portraitist, in Masonic regalia at the request of Alexandria Lodge 1797 March 28 Received a Masonic delegation from Alexandria Lodge
April 1, 1798 - Attended Alexandria Lodge No. 22 Proposed a toast at the banquet that followed
December 18, 1799 - Buried at Mount Vernon with Masonic rites as well as those of the church, conducted by Alexandria Lodge

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Summary of the Academy of Masonic Knowledge

Well, in good form, I couldn't sleep last night (yet another night lately of sleeplessness) and this morning I slept through the alarm.  Of all days, I had to sleep in on the day of a speech I wanted to see.  Cursing I dressed and raced to the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown where the presentations were located.  To top it all off, PA was hit with an early snowstorm, but the snow did not slow me and I only missed the first 20-minutes of Brent Morris's speech on "Writing Research Papers".

He gave a nice speech with some great points and gave me some new ideas to research.  Some of these inspirations came from his lips as some knowledge he was lacking in historical knowledge.  He did a Q&A with the Brethren present then the important part of the day...lunch.

I sat with Cliff Porter, one of the speakers, and a few Brothers from some of the online forums. It was good to put the faces to the names.  If it had not been for the ending of lunch and the reconvening of the presentations we probably could have talked all day about every little thing concerning Masonry.

Cliff was amazed at my journey to the East Coast and honored me by introducing me to the congregation. His presentation was on the psychology of Freemasonry and different personality types.  He could only talk for about 45-minutes.  He also did a Q&A. 

Thomas Jackson, Chairman of the Academy of Masonic Knowledge, even gave a few words, and one of the things he said really caught my eye (this is paraphrased):
"If we could combine the enthusiasm of the youth with the knowledge of the elderly we could move the world."
We finished the Q&A where Cliff asked me and a few others to have drinks at his hotel.  We accepted.  Afterward, I took a tour of the Masonic Cultural Center and took some pictures.  It's quite a spectacular place.

These next few photos are of the tunnels that run beneath the buildings in the village so that the inhabitants did not have to face the inclemencies and vicissitudes of the weather outside.

Once I had my fill I took off for Cliff's hotel, and after some hick-ups with getting gas, I made it there.  We talked Craft and opinions over some drinks before heading into the restaurant.  We ate, we talked, and we exchanged contact information, but then it was time to depart.

I definitely would suggest, that if you ever have a chance, go see Cliff Porter give one of his speeches and meet him.  He is quite a character.

Visiting the City of Brotherly Love

I got in a little later than I thought last night, but no matter, this morning I was up and at them at the crack of dawn. I made my way to Philadelphia and first, and foremost, the Masonic Temple of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania. The building and all of its rooms were beautiful and immense. Here are some photos:

Oriental Hall

Gothic Hall

Ionic Hall

Egyptian Hall

Norman Hall

Renaissance Hall

Corinthian Hall

After having some lunch, I walked around the areas surrounding Independence Hall. I first stopped by the Graff House, or Declaration House, where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. Sadly the original house burnt down, but they had replicas and some displays.

I walked over to the Burial Yard of the Old Christ Church to look upon the grave of the good Brother Benjamin Franklin.

Finally, it was time to go tour Independence Hall. I was able to get into an earlier than scheduled tour with a very enthusiastic tour guide. He explained to us the history of the buildings.

I then walked around Independence Square.

Then crossed over to Washington Square to see the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.

As I had only maybe 2-hours of sleep under my belt I was feeling sluggish so I made the trek back to Harrisburg. Now here I lay, getting ready for bed, and looking forward to tomorrow's speeches at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown.