Progress of Grand Lodge Projects

Brethren all,

What a great change our Internet Committee, and our new Webmaster, have made in the electronic communications of our Grand Lodge! It is exciting to see all the “blurbs” and “blogs” and “tweets”, and all those other things that the “techies” have come up with to allow us to better communicate with each other. By now, you understand that I am still in the “party line” era.
Anyhow, I do want to thank Brothers Jerry, Collin, Ricky, and Jared for their hard work and dedication to this project.

I am looking forward to the groundbreaking for the “Builders Walk of Fame”, to be taking place this year at the Grand Lodge Office. According to the committee members, the bricks have been purchased, and the committee is going forth with the plans to begin the walk, one section at a time. We have only sold about 350 of the possible 2000 bricks that it will take to complete the walk, so, if you have not had the opportunity to purchase one, please do so in the near future. The forms are easy to download from the Grand Lodge Web Site.

In the mean time, watch out for motorcycles, and school children, and proudly display those Square and Compasses pins, patches, rings.

Butch
Grand Master of Masons in Mississippi

A Noble Calling

This will probably be the last of the series of articles written for the Craft by me as my term in office is coming to an end shortly.  However, I wish to ask you a question.  What is the noblest calling one can receive? I have thought about that question many times since being installed as Grand Master.  I want to thank each of you for your prayers, support and acts of kindness. I am truly humbled to be serving in this high office.

I know that together, we can accomplish great things while helping our fellowman. It will take each of us working together with a commitment to keep the lines of communication open, thus ensuring we listen and talk with each other while remaining united to make a difference because we were here.

As I have reflected on those in our communities who give of themselves daily I have pondered the question, what is the noblest calling one can receive? Perhaps it is to become a teacher, serve in the military, and be in public service as a school board member, fireman, policeman or perhaps a first responder.  Let us never forget the 911 responders.  And let us not forget the calling to be a spouse, parent, or to become the President of the United States.

Let us take a look at a masonic brother who became the 33rd President of the United States.  I have always admired President Truman, particularly the way he handled adversity. During his first weeks as Vice President, Truman scarcely saw President Roosevelt and received no briefings on the development of the atomic bomb or the developing difficulties with The Soviet Union. The winds of change would swiftly cause these and a host of other wartime tribulations to become Truman’s duty to solve when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in office.

On April 12, 1945, Harry S. Truman became our 33rd President of the United States of America.  Shortly after taking the oath of office, Truman said to reporters, “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don’t know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”

Brother Truman’s noble calling began in 1884 when Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri. Truman did not have a middle name. In southern states, including Missouri, parents typically used initials rather than a middle name.  He grew up in Independence, and for 12 years prospered as a Missouri farmer through hard work and dedication. Truman would enter The Great War as a Captain in the Field Artillery and served in France.

Over four years the Great War would leave in its wake a toll of death, carnage and destruction such as the world had never seen. World War I would forever shape the 20th century and leave its mark upon Truman and those who served at home and abroad.  Returning from The Great War, he married Elizabeth Virginia Wallace and opened a men’s clothing store in Kansas City. Active in the Democratic Party, in 1922 Truman was elected a judge of the Jackson County Court. Eventually in 1934 Truman would hear the calling to become a Senator.  During World War II he headed the Senate war investigating committee, who was task with checking into waste and corruption.  It has been estimated that Truman saved our government an estimated cost of 15 billion dollars.
 
President Truman made some of the most decisive decisions in history. Soon after V-E Day, the war against Japan had reached its final stage.  Allied Forces issued an urgent plea for Japan to surrender, which was promptly rejected by the Empire of Japan.  President Truman, after consultations with his advisers, ordered atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to Japan’s war effort.  The two cities selected were Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Japanese surrender quickly followed.  In June 1945 Truman witnessed the signing of the charter of the United Nations.

Until this time, President Truman had followed his predecessor’s policies, but he soon developed his own. He presented to Congress a 21-point program, proposing the expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing and slum clearance. Truman wrote this program, “symbolizes for me my assumption of the office of President in my own right.” It became known as the “Fair Deal.”

In 1947 President Truman would face re-election and he would have to campaign for the office of President. In foreign affairs Truman’s life experiences provided his most effective leadership for the American people. President Truman’s second term would be marked with many social and foreign affair challenges. In 1952 President Truman would decide not to accept the nomination of his party for President. Weary and worn from the conflicts of politics and burdens he had faced President Truman retired to Independence; and at age 88, he died on December 26, 1972, “after a stubborn fight for life”. President Truman’s life or what may be called his “body of work” was committed to “do that which is right”.  His obituary read “He left a major mark as a world leader”.

Regardless of your station in life, are you committed to do that which is right? Often this will be a willingness to answer a call and accept a position of service. We each must be willing to break new ground and get out of our comfort zone.

Breakthroughs require commitment, engagement and imagination. Leaders should embrace their calling like President Truman and commit themselves to have their “body of work” stand for that which is right.  When faced with adversity look for new ideas, insights and ways to solve the problems we are facing – get out of the box. I challenge each of you to commit yourselves to make your “body of work” stand for that which is right.  Our communities, state, nation and world are facing many challenges and difficulties. Our fraternity has the capability to make a difference. This will only occur when the craft challenges itself to rediscover, the wonder and curiosity of their youth.  Are we willing to go beyond our self-imposed boundaries and help those in need?

One of the most memorable poems ever written is “In Flanders Fields”.  Trench warfare had left its toll upon Europe and literally churned up the soil. Therefore in May of 1915, McCrae sat down for a 5 minute rest period and in anguish wrote his poem.  “Flanders Fields” was literally born in fire and blood during the hottest phase of the second battle of Ypres during World War I, with the wild poppies bursting forth from the ditches and graves on the battlefield.

As Grand Master I ask you to plow new ground. Cultivate new Ideas. Reach beyond your comfort zone. Take time for internal reflection and evaluate your body of work.  Remember breakthroughs require commitment, engagement and imagination.

Let the poppies remind you of the sacrifices our service men and women have made for our Great Nation.  Remember – freedom is not free.  The time has come for this generation to have their body of work stand for that which is right.

Earlier I asked you, what is the noblest calling one can receive? I suggest to you that the noblest calling you can receive it is to realize and achieve your potential.  To be the best that you can be.  To be “Always Faithful” to God, to our country, to our wounded and fallen heroes.

Just as President Harry S. Truman inherited what seemed to be impossible tasks with insurmountable obstacles, he kept the faith and persevered.  He faced his calling to lead our nation by not giving up and made some tough decisions.  Truman practiced a popularized phrase, “the buck stops here”; which was on a sign on his desk in the Oval Office referring to the fact that the President has to make decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.  That phrase is the motto of the U.S. Naval Aircraft Carrier – USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) – in active military service today.

Like President Truman, we should not run away from our calling.  Accept the challenges before us and meet them head on.  Change the things that we can change, accept the things that we cannot and seek the wisdom to know the difference; however, we should always just do what is right. To be “Always Faithful” to God, to our country, to our wounded and fallen heroes.  Failure is not an option – be a Builder.

My term in office is coming to an end.  Shortly the question will be asked, “What is the time?” Brethren, words fail me in expressing my appreciation and gratitude for you in allowing me to serve you as Grand Master this past year.  I have done my best with the limitations that I had.  I thank you for your forgiveness of any shortcomings.  Remember Brethren, no matter the situation or obstacle – be Always Faithful – be a builder – I thank you for the honor of serving as your Grand Master this past year – Semper Fi.

Fraternally,
Kenneth E. Dyer
Grand Master

Duty, Honor, Country

At the conclusion of a graveside burial service of a veteran, there is usually a twenty one gun salute, the Honor Guard removes and folds the American Flag and taps is played. A member of the Honor Guard retrieves three of the expended shell casings which are placed inside of the folded flag.  At the conclusion the American Flag is presented to the family on behalf of ‘The President of the United States and a grateful nation.’  The family is informed that the three shell casings represent duty, honor and country.

Duty, honor and country the three reasons, someone answers the call of their country in time of war or to serve in the military.  They do not seek glory, honor, accolades or medals but the solitude of their families. This is why they answer their country’s call.  Perhaps it is the words spoken many years ago by Abraham Lincoln, on November 19, 1863 in his famous Gettysburg Address that exemplifies those feelings:
“…the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”

Brethren, as Americans we must consider the reality of the following:
• These are serious times within our country and they demand serious actions.
• We have a duty to our families, our ancestors and our posterity to be responsible citizens.
• Freedom is not free.

If we consider the enemies of masonry to be: ignorance, fanaticism and indifference toward the needs of others; it seems we are extremely out numbered.  As masons the imagery of the compasses and its useful purposes should be well known to us.  I suggest, however, that America has today lost her moral bearing and is becoming one nation forgetting GOD, rather than one nation under GOD.

With currently over 6 billion people in the world, more than 900 million people in North American,  over 2,000,000 people in the state of Mississippi, approximately 18,500 masons in our Grand Jurisdiction and about 245 lodges – how can so few, overcome such an overwhelming indifference force?

By studying the history of military battles one can learn several lessons from military strategy and gain knowledge for the task before them. Two such examples are General George S. Patton of World War II fame and General Norman Schwarzkopf of the Gulf War.  General Schwarzkopf had studied the past wars in the Persian Gulf and developed a good strategy.  I find it interesting that General Schwarzkopf said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character, but if you must be without one, be without strategy.”
General Patton studied the war strategy of the Carthaginian General Hannibal.  Here is a quote from General Patton worthy of consideration here: “Moral courage is most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.”  Each General studied past military battles and applied what worked into each of their battle strategies. 
 
A third example that we can use when planning battles against overwhelming enemies of masonry is to remember the military last stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae?
In 480 BC, Persia assembled an invasion force of over 350 thousand to invade and destroy Greece.  The King of Greece handpicked 300 Spartans and marched to Thermopylae.  The Spartans were one of the most militaristic cultures in history and mothers would tell their sons “come home with your shield or be carried on it”. The Greeks made their stand at a mountain pass 50 feet wide. The Persians outnumbered the Greeks 50 to 1.  The Spartans fought in platoons called a “phalanx “, which was a group of 8 men across and 4 deep.  In the first day of battle, an attacking force of 5000 Medes were defeated and their dead bodies were used to build a wall to mock the Persians upon their return on the 2nd day of the battle. 

Treachery would rear its ugly head and a Greek traitor went to the Persians and sold his integrity, by informing them of a goat path that went around the Spartans position.  The 300 Spartans would be out-flanked but they welcomed death and fought all the more fiercely.  The Spartans would make their last stand on a small hill after withdrawing from the pass and four times the Persian advance was repelled with heavy losses.

What does this have to do with us as masons?  The goat path in our masonic battle is the “ante room.”  We must not only guard against cowans and eavesdroppers from entering our lodges, but those who merely seek entrance into Appendant Masonic Bodies for personal gain.  We cannot allow the unskilled and unworthy to enter by way of the “goat path”; they would have outflanked us as the Spartans were.  These seek glory, titles and self-gratification.  Masonry is not for everyone and everyone is not for masonry.

A Mason is prepared first in his heart by applying the tenants of masonry long before he hears them in the work.  A man does not become a mason first in his ear or when someone solicits him for membership.

The path of enlightenment does not begin in some club or sports-bar. Therefore when you hear someone complaining about our membership declining, remember we will not defeat the enemies of masonry by mere numbers. We will win with our fraternity dedicated to duty, honor and country.  So if you are disheartened, think of quality not quantity and remember the last stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae.  A Spartan leaves the battle field with his shield or upon it.  A mason should realize that life is not about self and leaves the battlefield of life with his honor intact and with his dying breath say’s – “my life you may have, but my integrity you cannot.”

Fraternally,

Kenneth E. Dyer
Grand Master