“THE KING AND THE CRAFT”
As most of you will be aware, in a number of Grand Lodges throughout the world the GM Mason is often a member of the Aristocracy. this practice dates back to the days when the master of a lodge tended to be the local landowner or Laird. Indeed until fairly recently in our own Province the tradition was the Baronet of Ardgowan was the Provincial Grand Master, the last of whom was Sir Walter Guy Shaw-Stewart who demitted office in 1967 having served in that capacity for 23 years.
At the moment in the Grand Lodge of England, the Current Grand Master is Bro. The Duke of Kent- the Queens cousin. whilst his younger brother Prince Michael of Kent is the Grand Master of the Mark Grand Lodge of England. I was under the impression that when such a high ranking member of the Aristocracy took up such a position it was to act as a figurehead, I could not have been more wrong. My opinion was altered a few years ago when I met Bro. Prince Michael a few years ago and made it known to him I was a Mason , it was all he wanted to talk about and made it obvious that it meant a great deal to him , His parting words were to aske to pass on his Fraternal Greetings to my Mother lodge. This brings me onto another member of the Royal family who took his freemasonry very seriously indeed, I will start by quoting the gentleman in question.
“The world today requires spiritual and moral regeneration. I have no doubt after many years as a member of our order, that Freemasonry can play a part in this vital need”
That was written by HM George VI on November 5th 1951, in a letter he had sent to MW Bro. Rt.Hon. earl of Scarborough, The King had promised to install Lord Scarborough the following day as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, but was prevented from doing so bt what turned out to be his final illness. It echoes similar statements he made on a number of occasions when he attended the grand Lodge of England as both King and a Past Grand Master. He was in no doubt that freemasonry was a force for good and had a vital part to play in the life of his country.
Born in 1895 the second son of King George V and Queen Mary he seemed destined for a supporting role in royal life, like many previous younger sons prince Albert , as he was known then, looked forward to a service life and joined the Royal Navy. When the first world war broke out, unlike his older brother the Prince of Wales he was allowed to go on active service and he saw action at the battle of Jutland. He was invalided out of the Navy due to a duodenal ulcer but was determined to get back into uniform and joined Naval Air service which was soon combined with the Royal Flying corp and became the Royal Air Force ,he qualified as a pilot, the King however would not allow him to go on missions.
Although his father was not a Mason , Prince Albert knew of the long connection between the Royal House and Freemasonry. His great uncle The duke of Connaught was Grand Master of England from 1901-1939,King Edward VII, had been Grand Master of England from 1874-1901 and his brother the Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VIII, was initiated into the Houshould Brigade Lodge No 2614.
As a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Prince Albert, sought admission in the Navy Lodge No 2612 of which his Grand father had been the founding master, and he was initiated on 2nd December 1919.
In response to the toast the initiate Prince albert said “I have always wished to become a freemason, but owing to the war I have had no opportunity before this of joining the craft,. All my life I have heard about freemasonry, and though there has always been a certain mystery attached to it, I have learned that freemasons in this country have been a great help to the poor and friendless and have been notable for their efforts on behalf of children. One can see by the great Masonic Institutions and schools how successful their work has been in this cause, and I like to think that in the future I shall be associated with their great work”.
The event was widely reported in the press, as were his subsequent masonic activities. He became master of the Navy Lodge in 1921and following a precedent set by his ancestor King George VI , was to be its permanent master until heascended to the throne. A shy man with a pronounced stammer, it was remarked by those present that his stammer rarely surface when he was involved in ritual. the Duke of York, as he was to become, took very mush to freemasonry and he joined five other Lodges, he joined the Royal Arch in 1921 , he and the Prince of Wales joined the Rose Croix in 1921, and he was advanced to the M.D. in the GM Mark Lodge No 1 in 1928.
THE STORY BEHIND THIS BELOVED EMBLEM OF THE CRAFT IN GERMANY
In early 1934, soon after Hitler’s rise to power, it became evident that Freemasonry was in danger.
He issued two decree on the same day: all local control over schools, colleges and universities was at an end; all the educational processes in Germany would henceforth be Icontrolled by the Nazi Party and centralized in Berlin. The other degree was to proscribe Freemasonry and make membership and/or activity in Freemasonry a crime. Thus members of the Fraternity were to be regarded in the same category of common criminals or traitors. Hitler had long viewed Freemasonry as a part of “the Jewish conspiracy” and he lost little time in trying to eradicate Freemasonry. German Masonic lodges went dark; the organized Craft was broken; the Working Tools were either seized by Storm Troopers or secreted before their arrival; the Great Lights were extinguished. Freemasonry, as an organization, was no more in Germany.
In that same year, the “Grand Lodge of the Sun” (one of the pre-war German Grand Lodges, located in Bayreuth) realizing the grave dangers involved, adopted the little blue Forget-Me-Not flower as a substitute for the traditional square and compasses. It was felt the flower would provide brethren with an outward means of identification – in public, in cities and in concentration camps throughout Europe – while lessening the risk of possible recognition in public by the Nazis, who were engaged in wholesale confiscation of all Masonic Lodge properties.
He never quite understood that though he could desecrate or destroy Masonic Temples and disperse Masonic gatherings and imprison Freemasons that he was unable to invade the Temple that is in man and which is invulnerable except to God.
Freemasonry went undercover, and this delicate flower assumed its role as a symbol of Masonry surviving throughout the reign of darkness.
At no time did the Nazis ever detect this or learn of its having a special significance. And so did Freemasonry survive this great holocaust.
During the ensuing decade of Nazi power a little blue Forget-Me-Not flower worn in a Brother’s lapel served as one method whereby brethren could identify each other . The Forget-Me-Not distinguished the lapels of countless brethren who staunchly refused to allow the symbolic Light of Masonry to be completely extinguished.
When the ‘Grand Lodge of the Sun’ was reopened in Bayreuth in 1947, by Past Grand Master Beyer, a little pin in the shape of a Forget-Me-Not was officially adopted as the emblem of that first annual convention of the brethren who had survived the bitter years of semi-darkness to rekindle the Masonic Light.
At the first Annual Convent of the new United Grand Lodge of Germany AF&AM (VGLvD), in 1948, the pin was adopted as an official Masonic emblem in honor of the thousands of valiant Brethren who carried on their masonic work under adverse conditions. The following year, each delegate to the Conference of Grand Masters in Washington, D.C., received one from Dr. Theodor Vogel, Grand Master of the VGLvD.
Thus did a simple flower blossom forth into a symbol of the fraternity, and become perhaps the most widely worn emblem among Freemasons in Germany; a pin presented ceremoniously to newly-made Masons in most of the Lodges of the American-Canadian Grand Lodge, AF&AM within the United Grand Lodges of Germany. In the years since adoption, its significance world-wide has been attested to by the tens of thousands of brethren who now display it with meaningful pride.
Freemasonry has no greater name than Robert Burns. If there are those who question his investiture as Poet Laureate of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, owing to the absence of certain documentary evidence, no one denies that he was, and is, the greatest poet of Freemasonry, the singer alike of its faith and its friendship, its philosophy and its fun, its passion and its prophecy. Nay, more; he was the Laureate, of the hopes and dreams of the lowly of every land.
Higher tribute there is none for any man than to say, justly, that the world is gentler and more joyous for his having lived; and that may be truly said of Robert Burns, whose very name is an emblem of pity, joy, and the magnetism of Brotherly Love. It is therefore that men love Burns, as much for his weakness as for his strength, and all the more because he was such an unveneered human being. It is given to but few men thus to live in the hearts of their fellows; and today, from Ayr to Sidney, from Chicago to Calcutta, the memory of Burns is not only a fragrance, but a living force uniting men of many lands into a fellowship of Liberty Justice and Charity. “The Memory of Burns!” cried Emerson, “I am afraid Heaven and earth have taken too good care of it to leave anything to say. The west winds are murmuring it. Open the windows behind you and hearken to the incoming tide, what the waves say of it. The doves perching on the eaves of a stone chapel opposite may know something about it. The Memory of Burns – every man’s, every boy’s, every girl’s head carries snatches of his songs, and they say them by heart; and what is strangest of all, never learned them from a book, but from mouth to mouth. They are the property and the solace of mankind!”
In a tiny two-roomed cottage, clay-built and thatch-roofed, on the banks of the Doon, in the district of Kyle, two miles south of the town of Ayr, in Scotland, Robert Burns was born on January 25th, 1759. It was a peasant home, such as he afterward described in “The Cotter’s Saturday Night,” in which poverty was consecrated by piety, where the father was a priest of faith and the mother a guardian angel of the holy things of life. So far from as schools were concerned, his education was limited to grammar, writing and arithmetic. Later he picked up a little Latin, a smattering of French, and some knowledge of English and classic poets. But he knew the Book of Nature, leaf by leaf, and the strange scroll of the Human Heart, as only the swift insight of genius can read them.
At the age of twenty-two Burns was initiated into the Mysteries of Freemasonry, in St. David’s Lodge at Tarbolton, July 4th, 1781.Lockhart says that he was introduced to the Lodge by John Rankine. The minute recording his initiation reads: “Sederunt for July 4th. Robert Burns in Lochly was entered an Apprentice. Jo Norman, Master.” The second and third degrees were conferred on the same evening, in the month of October following his initiation. Six years later he was made a Knights Templar as well as a Royal Arch Mason in Eyemouth, as under the old Regime the two were always given together. By this time he had won some fame as a poet, and the higher degrees were given him in token both of his fame as a poet and his enthusiasm as a Mason.
On July 27th, 1784, Burns was elected Depute Master of St. James Lodge, Tarbolton, a position which he held until St. John’s Day, 1788.
He was made an honorary member of St. John Lodge No. 22, Kilmarnock, on October 26th, 1786. Major William Parker, the Master of St. John Lodge, became a great friend of Burns, and subscribed for thirty-five copies of the first edition of his poems. He is the “Willie” in the song “Ye Sons of Auld Killie” (a contraction of Kilmarnock) composed and sung by Burns on the occasion of his admission as an honorary member of St. John Lodge:
“Ye Sons of Auld Killie, assembled by William, To follow the noble vocation; Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another, To sit in that honored station. I’ve little to say, but only to pray, As praying’s the ton of your fashion; A prayer from the muse, you may well excuse, “Tis seldom her favorite passion. Ye powers who preside, o’re the wind and the tide, Who mark each element’s border; Who formed this frame with beneficent aim, Whose sovereign statute is order; Within this dear mansion may wayward contention, Or withered envy ne’re enter; May secrecy round be the mystical bound, And Brotherly Love be the center.
The minutes of this meeting concluded as follows: “Robert Burns, Poet, from Mauchline, a member of St. James, Tarbolton, was made an Honorary Member of this Lodge.”
“(Sgd.) Will Parker. This was the first Lodge to distinguish Burns with the designation “Poet,” and to honor him with honorary membership.
Besides being a faithful and enthusiastic attendant upon the meetings of his own Lodge, Burns was a frequent visitor at Lodge when away from home. It is said that, with a very few exceptions, all his patrons and acquaintances were members of the Fraternity.Copyright 1923 by the Masonic Service association of the United States.
Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial
The Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial is a monument located in the annex of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Gettysburg , Pennsylvania . Built by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, it commemorates Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead entrusting Union Captain Henry H. Bingham with his personal effects, most notably a pocket watch, on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, during Pickett’s Charge.
Pickett’s Charge was an assault upon the Union Army center on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The charge, the high tide of the Confederate States of America , was repulsed. Confederate general Armistead, under George Pickett’s command, personally led his men up the hill to the Union position. Armistead was shot twice. Severely wounded, and fearing that his personal effects would be stolen by Union soldiers, he “gave a Masonic sign asking for assistance”. Union Captain Bingham, an aide to Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, a personal friend of Armistead, then came to his aid as he lay wounded: Armistead, Bingham, and Hancock were all Freemasons. After ensuring Armistead that his possessions would be sent to his family, particularly his pocket watch, Bingham took Armistead to a field hospital, where Armistead died two days later on the George Spangler farm.
The monument’s sculptor was Ron Tunison of Cairo , New York , who was himself a Freemason. The sculpture is made of polychrome bronze.
The statue was dedicated by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on August 21, 1993.