Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Last Post

This blog's title has two meanings: one, it is the last time I will post to MNGrandMaster09; the Last Post is also the British bugle call that is a precursor to our American taps...

It was a great year. Thank you to all the Brothers who showed such respect and affection to the Grand Master. I greeted so many old friends, and made so many new ones... I have truly a lifetime of memories.

I have put over 22,000 miles on my car, attending over 170 Masonic events during the year. I was at 14 table lodges, and 8 conferrals of degrees, including giving the Middle Chamber lecture four times and taking the part of King Solomon twice. Patty and I made two trips by air to each of Washington DC and Texas and one to Phoenix.

I have had a lot of fun posting my travels and thoughts on this blog. Thank you for reading, and for mentioning to me that you have seen an event mentioned here.

I must confess to succumbing to a bit of curiosity when I Googled my own blog. I was surprised to see a reference to it show up on a neo-Nazi website:

Let's see what kind of a can of worms we can stir up with a look behind the Lodge door.

It seems as if the Most Highly Anointed Grand Poobah in The Soviet Socialist State of Minnesota is a big fan of "Tolerance" and is a worshiper of all things Jewish.

If my blog can generate a disparaging remark from this ilk, I must have done something right!

Thank you, all, once again. It has truly been a pleasure to serve our Craft for a year.

See you in Lodge!

Past Grand Masters' Dinner

After the ceremony and business of the Annual Communication, and after the Installation of the new Grand Master, Past Grand Masters, Grand Lodge officers, visiting dignitaries and honored guests are invited to an informal dinner.

Songs are sung, toasts are made, stories are told and friendships solidified. It is a great event.

And my first as a Past Grand Master.

And, the world premier of the "Past Grand Master's Song." It is sung to an old Irish tune "The Wild Rover" (which, coincidentally, was performed by Ring of Kerry the night before!) (Click on the title to see the Clancy Brothers perform this song!)

When I was Grand Master and I rose for to speak,
All the Brothers there present would come to their feet.
But now my term's finished, Grand Honors are o'er
And I'll never play the Grand Master no more.

(Chorus) And it's no, nay, NEVER!
No, nay, never no more
And I'll play the Grand Master
No never, no more.

Well being Grand Master, it is a delight
But you're away from your home just about every night.
And you ride in the car till your back, it is sore,
Then it's time to play the Grand Master no more!


Well my darlin' wife, shure she says to me,
"You can have one full year for your Freemasonry.
"But when the year's ended and you come through our door,
"You may never play the Grand Master no more!"


Past Grand Master's Gift

The officers of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, 2009-2010, presented me with a wonderful remembrance gift: an exact replica of the Baal's Bridge Square.

Baal's Bridge over the River Shannon in Limerick, Ireland, was rebuilt in 1830. Found tacked to the foundation of the old bridge was a bronze square, with the inscription, "I will strive to live with love and care, upon the level and by the square." It bears the date, 1507.

The card included with the gift indicated that it the Square is Number 152 of a limited edition of 500 cast in silver from a mold taken from the original.

I have spoken and written about the Ball's Bridge Square several times during the past year. It reminds me that Freemasonry has roots deep in Ireland, as well as England.

I am speechless with gratitude for this thoughtful gift from the friends and brothers with whom I have had the pleasure of serving the Masonry in Minnesota. Thank you!

Installation of Grand Master John L. Cook, Jr.

In a most impressive ceremony, John L. Cook, Jr., was installed as Grand Master of Minnesota Masons on March 27.

It was my privilege to present the jewel to be worn by the Grand Master in the ensuing year. In presenting the jewel, I used the presentation by PGM Ray Christensen:

This is the Jewel of Minnesota Masonry, presented by the craft, to be worn by the Grand Master of Minnesota in the performance of his duties for the Craft. Its weight is a reminder of his obligations and the source of his authority.

The leather is battle worn, indicating that the humble and intense service of your predecessors is expected of those who would wear it.

The jewel has amazing clarity and value, denoting the clarity of thought demanded of you and the value the craft places in your decisions and leadership.

The badge is tarnished, not only from the errors of each of its wearers, but also from the many tears each has shed for the craft.

The Past Grand Masters join with me in the admonition to wear this badge of office with pride and honor, acting with kindness and knowledge, and above all being humble and acting with fairness to all.

Godspeed my brother!

(The photo shows Grand Master Cook with a beautiful hand-crafted gavel, presented to him prior to installation.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ladies' Relaxation Program

Patty hosted a luncheon and relaxation and mini-spa program for 56 ladies attending the annual communication on Friday morning. Patti Lenz of BeautiControl gave a great presentation that was very much enjoyed by all.

I had a chance to stop by the luncheon and bring greetings, and thanks from all the Masons who simply could not do what they do for our fraternity without the love and support of their ladies. That is especially so for me. I do so appreciate my wife, Patty ...

Ring of Kerry

With all the bad Irish jokes and stories told during the 157th Annual Communication, I decided we had to have some good Irish music. The local band with a regional reputation, Ring of Kerry, did not disappoint.

To see this group in action, you can click on YouTube for a sampling.

Masonic Mentor Award

Tomorrow, I will present certificates to the Masters of 26 lodges that have shown a next increase in membership in 2009. In almost every instance, these exceptional lodges have a mentoring program. If not THE official Grand Lodge program, then one or two or more brothers that intuitively know the value of keeping in touch with a new brother.

I dare say that most of the Masons in this room, mostly Masonic leaders, also have had a mentor. It is a rare person who can legitimately claim that they have made themselves Masons.

I am tonight awarding the first Masonic Mentor Award. For me, it is a very personal recognition. For I, too, had a mentor.

My proficiency coach taught me more than the words to pass on to the next degree. I learned about Masonry. I learned about fellowship. I learned about commitment and dedication.

I learned about making a friend.

He pushed me – sometimes gently, sometimes with that proverbial well-placed boot – to get me active in lodge activities.

He didn’t just tell me to learn the ritual, he showed me by being Senior Deacon in the degree work whenever one was needed, and by doing the “G” lecture in the second degree better than anyone else I have ever heard.

Grand Standard Bearer Steve Saxton, would you kindly escort your dad, Worshipful Brother Orville Saxton to the podium so that I may make this presentation.

Thank you, Brother Orville, all you have taught me, and most of all, for being my friend.

I leave you with this Irish Blessing:

When the first light of sun, Bless you.
When the long day is done, Bless you.
In your smiles and your tears, Bless you.
Through each day of your years, Bless you.

(One of the photos shows me with WB Orville and his son, Grand Standard Bearer Steve Saxton. The other is with our wives.)

Masonic Sweetheart Award

My next presentation will be to a person who is involved in the work of the Grand Lodge, the Zuhrah Shrine and the Order of the Eastern Star.

Our Sweetheart of 2010 has been the editor of the Eastern Star Starlites, the Minnesota Mason from the Grand Lodge and most recently, the Zuhrah Arabian.

Bobbie Lampe has been most active in the Order of the Eastern Star including as Grand Organist in 2004-5. She has served as Worthy Matron of Granite Chapter several times. She has been an active supporter of Job’s Daughters and has served on the Board of the Minnesota Masonic Historical Society.

Bobbie plays a mean piano. Actually, it was at the Past Grand Master’s dinner last March when I knew Bobbie would be the Masonic Sweetheart this year. She found and played the Notre Dame Victory March for us!

I leave you with this Irish Blessing:

May God grant you always...
A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”

(The photo was taken at the Past Grand Masters' Dinner Saturday night, where Bobbie accompanied the sing-along!)

District Representative of the Year Award

The vast majority of District Representatives are entitled to recognition for their dedication to making our Gentle Craft the best it can be. So, I am being quite presumptuous in picking out one to recognize.

My choice this year was pretty obvious to me. Robert Holley was raised a Master Mason on April 1, 1990 Griswold Lodge No. 218. He is a dual member with Golden Fleece Lodge No. 89 in Litchfield. Bob was appointed District Representative March 2009 and will serve the Craft in the coming year as Area Deputy Assistant in the Northwest area

I would like to quote the Master of Golden Fleece Lodge when he talked about Bob’s contributions to Masonry this year:

Bob has made Golden Fleece Lodge a better lodge, indeed. And for those of us who have allowed Bob to touch our hearts, he has made us better Masons and better men.

But Bob doesn’t save his passion for just this lodge. He is a true ambassador of Masonry to the world. Who better than he to spread the word and light of Masonry? He has the gift of gab, a wonderful knowledge of Masonry and he is hard not to like.

Bob, as I present you with this small token of our appreciation for your endeavors on behalf of our Beloved Craft, I end with your Master’s final words:

Bob, thank you for all you have done, all you do and thank you in advance for what I know you will continue to do.

And with this Irish Blessing:

May good luck be your friend
in whatever you do
and may trouble be always a stranger to you.

Grand Lodge Hiram Award

The Grand Lodge of Minnesota HIRAM AWARD is a singular, once-in-a-lifetime recognition presented to a brother as an earned tribute for outstanding service to Freemasonry. The Master of every constituent Lodge in Minnesota is entitled to recognize one brother with this special distinction during his term of office. The local lodge should determine the criteria and method of selection.

The Grand Master has, on occasion, awarded a Hiram from the Grand Lodge. I intend to make such an award tonight.

The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Minnesota bestows the GRAND LODGE HIRAM AWARD upon a Mason who has served the Grand Lodge with distinction over a period of time.

In 1996, MWB Eric Neetenbeek asked a brother to give a hand on a project until a permanent replacement could be found. For over 13 years George Miller has practically single-handedly run the KidsID program for the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. I’m guessing there are dozens of brothers in the room tonight who have worked with George to put on KidsID events.

And, of course, that is far from the only Masonic duty he has performed…

George Miller, Jr. is a dual member Compass Lodge No. 265 and Minnesota River Valley Lodge No. 6. He was raised a Master Mason on March 6, 1967, at Compass Lodge No. 265.
George was honored as the 2002-2003 Grand Lodge of Minnesota Mason of the Year. He has served as Grand Chaplain and Grand Orator.
George is a Past Grand Patron Minnesota Grand Chapter OES and Past Associate Grand Guardian, Job’s Daughters. He is a Past Master both Compass and Minnesota River Valley Lodge No. 6, and has been a Life member since 2000.
In 2007, George was honored at Compass Lodge Hiram Award.

Yet George doesn’t do these things to win awards or recognition. He does them because he’s George – a Mason’s Mason and a Hiram if any Mason is.

Worshipful Brother George Miller, on behalf of the members of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, it is with great personal pride that I present you with the Grand Lodge’s HIRAM AWARD for 2009-2010.

Thank you, George for all your years of service. I’ll leave you with an Irish blessing:

May God grant you many years to live,
for sure He must be knowing
the earth has angels all too few, and heaven is overflowing.