Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Decade

Today, 10-years ago in a red-carpeted room in the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) building in Boise I raised my hand to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It has been an interesting ride with some great highs and a few lows.  I have deployed to Iraq twice, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) III in '04/'05 as an Intelligence Analyst and 6-years later in support of Operation New Dawn (OND) as a Shadow 200 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Standardization Instructor-Operator. I have gained an immense amount of experience and gained some life-long relationships.

I am almost done with my National Guard contract and currently don't plan on re-enlisting, but plan on pursuing a career with the Federal government.  I am currently attending college using the Post 9/11 GI Bill to fund my way through to eventually earn both my Bachelor's and Masters degree.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My First Week Back At School

Well, if the first week (and introduction into the course syllabi) this Semester will be great.  Classes are fun and interactive, and my Political Science Professors are passionate about teaching, yet not letting their individual beliefs bleed over into their teaching. I can see that I am going to love the Intro of International Relations course this semester; too bad it is only 50-minutes.

I hope to keep supplying this blog with plenty of posts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Templar Uniforms

From my early interest in the Templars of the Crusades, I always found their garments, and the distinction between the two, interesting as it was both simple, but highly symbolic. Fast forward to Fall 2008 and I have entered the Asylum for the first time to see the Sir Knights seated in their uniforms; one of a black jacket (similarly used by the Naval Petty Officer), a feathered Chapeau, and armed with a sword. I, as with many people, have found the difference in uniform styles to be weird (for lack of a better word). For such a prestigious order to commemorate themselves by taking the name of those valiant knights of the Crusades, but veering away from them in such a manner.

Before we delve into the history and evolution of the modern Templar uniform, one should have a basic understanding of each uniform individually. 

The Garments of the Knights Templar 

The best-known wardrobe of the Knights Templar is a white mantle (for Knights) and a brown mantle (for Sergeants) emblazoned with the red cross pattée, but I am getting ahead of myself.

As with any good and organized body there are set guidelines, regulations, or Constitution that establishes operating procedure as well as member uniformity. In the time of the Crusades, this was no different. Ecclesiastical and knightly orders worked under "Rules" which governed their lives.

When the Knights Templar were first founded in Jerusalem they received a copy of the Rules of St. Augustine, but at the Council of Troyes the Templar Rule was written, the most notable participant was Bernard of Clairvaux. The result of this Council was what is commonly referred to as the "Primitive Rule". This "Primitive Rule" established the garments of the members, but originally did not bestow the honor to wear the red cross. It wasn't until 1147 when Pope Eugene III granted the right to wear the red cross. While many pictures show the Cross emblazoned in many places around the uniform it was stationed over the heart of the left side of the mantle.

Their white mantle was said to be a symbol of purity and a reflection of the knight's vow of chastity. It has also been suggested (never definitively proven) that they were required to wear sheepskin undergarments and that were never to be removed as another symbol of their vows.

While many knights of the day wore their hair long, the Templars' hair was kept short and were forbidden to cut their beards. Being a member of the Armed Forces myself I can understand the practical need for short hair having worn an abundance of different styles of helmets or covers. It would be no different to apply this logic to the knights of the crusades where hair could obscure their vision in their helmets while riding into battle.

The Modern (Masonic) Templar uniforms 

As the Crusader's garments were defined by their Rule so too are our uniforms defined in the Constitution of the Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, USA. Now the description of the uniform changes with rank (ie subordinate Commandery officer, dais office, Grand Commandery officer, Grand Encampment officer, etc) so I will give a general description with some specifics of the Dress Uniform (not the Summer or Cap & Mantle). Also note, that a Grand Commandery may slightly alter the uniform within its own jurisdiction, but a subordinate Commandery may not (on its own).

The Templar Dress Coat, as the Grand Encampment refers to it, is a black double-breasted frock coat with crosses upon the sleeve (each different for members, officers, Grand officers, and Grand Encampment officers). For members and non-dais officers of a subordinate Commandery, there is nothing on the shoulders, but for dais officers, on up there are set shoulder boards depicting the rank. Jewels from meritorious service or rank are worn upon the left breast. The trousers shall be black broadcloth and of standard military cut (your average black dress pants).

The feathered chapeau always brings a smile to people's faces. It is trimmed with black velvet binding, and with two black and one white ostrich plume so arranged that the black plumes shall show at the edges distinctly and the end of the white plume shall not extend beyond the chapeau more than three inches, the length, and width to be in proportion to the size of the Sir Knights. The exact dimensions may vary with rank/position, but for the most part, the Chapeau extends to the front and rear a few inches from the head. The side is beveled, all lined with gold wire lace. On the left side is set a rosette which varies with rank.

The swords are ornamented from hilt through the blade and vary with rank (gold plate versus silver). Some jurisdictions wear a belt and some use a shoulder strap that hides under the coat coming through a pocket on the hip.

So how did we come to this?

The Evolution of the Modern Uniforms

Brother Brent Morris in his book "The Complete Idiots Guide to Freemasonry" describes the original uniform of the American Knights Templar as rather simple being composed of a black triangular apron with skull & bones, a shoulder-to-hip sash, and a sword, all of which would be worn over street clothes. American Masonic Templary from its earliest recorded conferral up into the 19th century hadn't spread very quickly owing to the scandal referred to as the Morgan Affair and the American Civil War.

After the Civil War though, would come an age where many fraternal organizations (not just the Masonic one) would flourish as well as the regalia companies who supplied them. After the war we see the Templar uniform updated into something more acceptable for the Victorian Age (ca. 1837 - 1901) where we see it go from a simplistic design to a black frock coat (similar to the Civil War-era uniforms), a feathered (naval style) chapeau, a sword & scabbard, and for some time a black triangular apron (no longer used by the Grand Encampment*).

While impressive when in procession, it is expensive, and Brett makes a certain comment in his book that I must share as I find it pertinent as well as comical:
"If expense is widely held (if inappropriate) measure of prestige, then Knights Templar topped the popular scale with their uniforms (unsuitable for anything but Templar meetings) and their exclusive membership in and fees for Lodge, Chapter, and Commandery."
* - Some jurisdictions still use the apron


1. (n.d.). Chapter XIX - Uniforms - Subordinate Commanderies. In Constitution, Statutes, Disciplinary Rules, Standing Resolutions, Ceremonies, Forms and Approved Decisions of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America (p. 173). 

2. Dafoe, S. (2010, April 01). Masonic Templar Regalia. Retrieved from

3. Dafoe, S. (n.d.). Garments Of The Knights Templar. The Working Tools magazine, pp. 39-40. 

4. (2006). Chapter 8: The York Rite. In B. Morris, The Complete Idiots Guide to Freemasonry. London: Penguin Group. 

5. The Primitive Rule of the Templars. 

6. (n.d.). Retrieved from Project Beauceant: (n.d.). U2. Uniforms. In Constitution, Laws, and Regulations Of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of the State of Idaho (pp. 50-51).

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Year of 13

Getting away from this being the supposed year that the world ends, this is a very unusual year.  The superstitious hold Friday the 13th has to be a day of either severe bad luck or good luck, but this year they have to wrangle with 3 of them, separated exactly 13 weeks apart (which has not happened since 1984 - the year of my birth).
Three Friday the 13ths happen every few years. The last was in 2009, and the next is 2015. What's special about 2012 — and what won't occur again until 2040 — is that this is happening during a leap year, says Tom Fernsler, a University of Delaware math professor who sometimes goes by the name Dr. 13.
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There are many historical events that have landed on Friday the 13th, the most well-known being the mass arrest of the French Knights Templar on October 13th, 1307, by King Phillip IV.

Some of the historical events are:
Butch Cassidy, a notorious American train and bank robber was born on Friday, April 13th, 1866.

Al Capone was sentenced to prison on a Friday the 13th.

Fidel Castro was born on Friday, August 13th, 1926.

Hubert Humphrey, the 38th Vice President of the USA, died on Friday, January 13th, 1978. 
 The "Friday the 13th virus" infected hundreds of IBM computers across Great Britain on Friday, Jan. 13, 1989. This is one of the most famous early examples of a computer virus making headlines.
Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas on Friday, Sept. 13th, 1996.
Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13 while fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. From the time of the Templar arrest to today there are many superstitions surrounding this day.
13 Supersitions about Friday the 13th
  1. There is at least one Friday the 13th every year, but no single year has more than three.
  2. Months with a Friday the 13th always begin on a Sunday.
  3. The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is fourteen months.
  4. Legend has it if 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. In France, diners can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.
  5. Friday is said to be the day when Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit, Abel was killed by Cain and Jesus Christ was crucified.
  6. Many cities do not have a 13th Street or 13th Avenue.
  7. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor.
  8. Most airports skip having a 13th gate and airplanes a 13th row.
  9. Many hospitals do not have a room number 13.
  10. If you have 13 letters in your name, you have the devil's luck - Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Theodore Bundy all have 13 letters in their names.
  11. There are 13 twists of the rope in a traditional hangman's noose and 13 steps leading up to the gallows.
  12. In Formula 1 racing, there is no car with the number 13. The number has been removed after two drivers were killed in crashes, both driving cars numbered 13.
  13. An urban myth states the British Royal Navy tried to dispel the superstition that sailing on Friday was bad luck. They built a ship named HMS Friday. On its maiden voyage, the vessel left dock on a Friday the 13th, and was never heard from again.
The number 13 and Friday are recurring presences in mythological, spiritual, and religious traditions. In Christianity, 13 people attended the Last Supper before Judas' betrayal and Jesus' death on a Friday. A Norse myth warns of dire consequences for dining in groups of 13 (something as we saw above, the French even feared in some instances).

For many pagans, 13 is a lucky number, because it corresponds with the number of full moons each year, says Ivo Dominguez Jr., owner of Bell, Book & Candle, a pagan and occult book and gift shop in Dover, Del.

The Numerology of 13

The number 13 symbolizes the death to the matter or to oneself and the birth to the spirit: the passage on a higher level of existence.  One can see a bond between Jacob and his twelves sons as well as Christ to his 12 Apostles.  According to the Druids, the sacred cord has 13 segments. The Sumerians used a zodiac including 13 constellations and 26 main stars.  The number 13 also falls into the Fibonacci sequence.

There are many more things tied to 13 such as the 13 original colonies of America as well as the number conspiratorial tied to us Freemasons.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Master of Templary Orders

From "The Poetry Of Freemasonry" by Rob Morris

One is your Master, Christ, the Lord,
And we are Brethren, true and strong,
Sincere in heart, exact in word,
Abhorring vice and wrong.

Sir Knights, flash out the Cross-hilt Sword!
One is your Master, Christ, the Lord,

One word inspires the valiant Knight, —
It is the cruel Golgotha;
One star leads on with steady light,
The bright, the Orient star.

Sir Knights, flash out the Cross-hilt Sword
One is your Master, Christ, the Lord,

Where lines of Knightly legends flow,
From Bethlehem to Olivet,
There do our warrior-longings go,
There is our Master yet.

Sir Knights, flash out the Cross-hilt Sword!
One is your Master, Christ, the Lord,

And when is won this earthly strife,
Laid by the Spear, assumed the Crown,
We trust to share that peaceful life
Which our Great Captain won.

Sir Knights, flash out the Cross-hilt Sword!
One is your Master, Christ, the Lord.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Heading Back to College

Well, its a New Year and now that I'm home from Iraq, it is time to head back to college.  I am a registered student at Boise State University.  I am going for a Bachelors in Political Science with an emphasis on International Relations and I haven't decided my minor, but it will either be in leadership or history.

I have the books and I'm down to a week before it starts.  I am excited.

My posts may slow down, but I will keep the posts coming when I can get them in.

Monday, January 9, 2012

York Rite College conferred the 1st Degree

Tonight was a great night. Companion Knights of Tri-Valley College No.178, York Rite Sovereign College of North America, assembled at Idaho Lodge No.1 to confer the 1st Degree of Freemasonry.  They did an amazing job and I hope the candidate thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'd like to thank the Companion Knights for their performance in the conferral and thanks to Idaho Lodge No.1 for allowing us to confer the degree.

Top Row (L-R): Me, David Grindle - Deputy Grand Governor of Idaho, Jerry Parsons - Seneschal, and G. Arthur Shoemaker - Secretary & Past Governor (PG)
Bottom Row (L-R): Ron Berto - Grand Governor of Idaho, Jay Leonard - Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho, our newly obligated Brother (name withheld), Bill Curtis - Worshipful Master of Idaho No.1 and Governor of Tri-Valley College No.178, Stan Barker - Past Governor, and Art Easley - Chancellor

 All of those in attendance at Idaho Lodge No.1

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Frank J. Kester Knights Templar Groundhog Day Breakfast

Idaho Commandery No.1, Knights Templar of Idaho, will be hosting their annual Frank J. Kester Knights Templar Groundhog Day Breakfast at the Boise Masonic Temple on Saturday, the 4th of February, beginning at 7:00AM.  There is a requested donation of $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children under 12 for an all-you-can pancake breakfast.

This year's proceeds will go to supporting a minister as he takes part in the Grand Encampment's Holy Land Pilgrim program.  All are invited to attend and

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Masonic Week in Romania

In May, the Companions and Sir Knights of Romania will be celebrating 130 years of York Rite Masonry.

This week-long event will take place in Bucharest from the 14th to the 19th of May.

Monday will be for registration, Tuesday for the Grand Chapter of the Royal Arch, Wednesday for the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons, Thursday for appendant York Rite organizations (such as KYCH, SRIR, AMD, etc), Friday will be for the Knights Templar, and all of this will culminate with the Anniversary Ceremony and Dinner on Saturday.

If you are interested in going, visit the General Grand Council website and click on "Calendar".  Go to the month of May 2012, click on "Romanian York Rite Week", and click on "More Details" to get the official announcement.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

York Rite College performing the EA Degree

On January 9th, 2012, Tri-Valley College No.178, York Rite Sovereign College of North America, will be putting on the Entered Apprentice degree for Idaho Lodge No.1 in Boise, ID, starting at 7:30 PM.

All Masons are invited to attend.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Day Polar Bear Jump

Well after a night out on the town celebrating the New Year, I drug my butt up to Lucky Peak Reservoir.  Along with hundreds of other people I took the plunge and took to the freezing water in this year's Polar Bear Challenge.  It was cold...really, really cold, but a lot of fun.
TAKE THE PLUNGE: Make-A-Wish Foundation’s New Year’s Day fundraiser set for Lucky Peak

Brave and dedicated individuals will kick off the New Year by plunging into the icy water, with some even attempting to ski and wakeboard. Funds raised from the event will be used to grant wishes to Idaho children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Each year the Idaho Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation serves more than 90 children.

Happy New Year!

Another year ends and another approaches. This year was a strange one -- for one the deployment made the year go by so slowly, but because I missed so much the year seems to be coming to end too quickly for me.

Last year I was sitting on a base in Southern Iraq. This year I am sitting in Idaho. I expect to still be here next year and hopefully going to school still.

As for resolutions, I just plan on being happy and as healthy as I can be.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year.

Auld Lang Syne
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.