Every year the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho attends a function in Manhattan hosted by James W. Husted-Fiat Lux Lodge No.1068 and officers of the Grand Lodge of New York. So what started this? Why is the Grand Master of Idaho visiting a subordinate Lodge in New York? Why is a New York Lodge having an event called "Idaho Brotherhood Night"?
Well, it goes back a few years to the 1930s and the events leading to WWII. In 1933, Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor and, after the death of President Hindenburg in 1934, took complete dictatorial power over Germany. In 1935, Nazi Germany started targeting certain groups such as Jews, Communists, gypsies, mentally and physically disabled people, the intelligencia, and even Freemasons. In March 1938, Nazi Germany invaded and annexed Austria. In March of 1939, Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. As a result, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, declared war on Germany and officially kicked off WWII.
Now, stepping back to 1937 in the United States, Bro. George Briggs, Grand Representative of Idaho for the Grand Lodge of New York, taking his job seriously, invited M.W.Bro. William H. Thompson, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Idaho (1936-1937), to James W. Husted-Fiat Lux Lodge No.1068 (then Lux Lodge No. 1079) in New York while they were both in Washington DC for a conference. To his delight and as an honor to his Lodge, the Grand Master acquiesced his request and received an amazing welcome during his visit. While Idaho and New York had a unique connection, it wasn't quite solidified.
At the 70th Annual Communication, M.W.Bro William H. Thompson condemned the Nazi regime and the deplorable treatment many faced. At the 71st Annual Communication (1938) of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho, M.W.Bro. Curtis F. Pike (PGM 1913-1914), the then Grand Secretary of Idaho, spoke out against the actions of Nazi Germany:
“During the past year, we contributed our might to the relief of our Masonic brethren who have been exiled from their homes by decree of the dictator of Germany. 300 Masons and their families are stranded in Switzerland. Driven from their homes in Vienna like wild boars, like wild geese in Switzerland in the forest. And for what reason. We venture to guess they were among the best citizens of Austria. Measured by all the proper standards of citizenship. Here in America and elsewhere, under the flags of liberal governments, masons are looked upon as most desirable citizens, we select them for positions of honor and leadership.”
The Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho would further condemn the cruel actions of Nazi Germany. Bro. Briggs, as Grand Representative to Idaho, read the proceedings and it gave him even more incentive to continue to invite the Grand Masters of Idaho to NY as Fiat Lux Lodge was composed predominantly of Jewish men. Thus a lasting friendship was established that has existed ever since.
According to M.W.Bro. G. Arthur Shoemaker, Past Grand Master of Idaho (2014-2015):
"That statement was NOT politically correct or in line with the popular sentiment at the time when it was given. Idaho was proven to be correct in our statement. This points out that as Masons we should not just follow the crowd or do what is popular. We need to think about what we are doing and do what is right even if the cost is high."
According to Bro. John Robinson, a member of James W. Husted-Fiat Lux lodge Lodge No.1068, said it best:
"It has come to represent the duty we masons here assert; what is right, to speak when others are silent and to do the right thing. This is embodied so well by the actions of our Idaho brothers who held up a light to push back the darkness as the world prepared for war."
The trip for the Grand Master usually consists of touring NYC including the Grand Lodge of New York building as well as a banquet/dinner and program at the Lodge. The Grand Master of Idaho is made an honorary member of James W. Husted-Fiat Lux No.1068. Nearly every Grand Master of Idaho has made the annual trip during their tenure, but due to a number of reasons (like Covid), some may visit in another year along with another Grand Master.
Idaho Brotherhood Night was once described during the 2010 visitation as thus:
"The relationship between a Grand Lodge nestled in the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains and a Lodge ensconced in the concrete canyons of Manhattan may seem strange at first glance, but the relationship is strong and heartfelt, and reflects Masonic Brotherhood at its finest."
May the friendship between these two jurisdictions never waiver and remain steadfast.