On Monday, I attended an awards dinner sponsored by the Minnesota Employer Support for Guard and Reserve. This organization assists National Guard and Reserve military personnel to ensure that their employers respect their rights under the law. The ESGR goes further than that, however, in recognizing employers and other organizations who go above and beyond the minimum requirements of the law to support employees, and their families, who are called to serve our country.
Last year, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and Minnesota Masonic Charities were recognized by ESGR for activities in support of our troops. For each of the past three years, we have purchased 1000 tickets to a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher football game for military personnel and their families. In each of the past two years, we have awarded 200 General Ed Waldron Scholarships for military personnel returning from the Afghanistan or Iraq theaters of operation. Each scholarship is for $1000. Over the past two years the Masons of Minnesota have contributed $400,000 to support the educational goals of Minnesota veterans.
One of the tenets of our Fraternity is Political Freedom. Masons have long consistently supported our men and women in the armed forces of our country, and those veterans who have served, as a small way of saying "Thank You!" for those who have given so much to ensure the freedoms we enjoy in our great country.