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Masons  And   U. S.  Flag


Take a good look at that American Flag, Brethren
It’s got more Masonry in it than you may know -

Editor and Publisher Of The

The weeks since the September 11 carnage at New York City’s World Trade Center has seen more public exposure of our American Flag probably than at any time since that day in 1777 when the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States. We Americans have good reason to be proud of that symbol of Freedom and of our great nation. How many Masons know the major role we’ve had not only in shaping the destiny of this great nation, but also in creating, guiding and bringing veneration to those stars and stripes that comprise —”Old Glory.” Let us take a look back.

On January 1, 1776, General and Brother George Washington, after having achieved a semblance of military order with a limited number of troops, proclaimed the formation of the Continental Army at his headquarters on Prospect Hill, Somerville, Massachusetts. There he hoisted the Grand Union Flag on a 70 - foot mast in defiance of the British who were watching from Boston. The flag too closely resembled the British flag. The enemy sneered. An angry Bro. Washington while still in the field sketched the idea of the stars and stripes on the back of an envelope. It was a Mason—Bro. Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who really designed what the legendary Betsy Ross then cut and sewed into America’s first flag. The following year, on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the Stars and Stripes as a symbol of our new freedom and independence. The thirteen stars on a blue field defiantly replaced the British flag. After that Masonic glory accompanied the stars and stripes on America’s journey to growth and glory.

Admiral and Brother John Paul Jones, “Father of our Navy” in France achieved international prestige for our Navy and our country during a historic ceremony at Quiberon Bay on February 13, 1778. There the French Fleet gave our flag our first national salute, the first time America was acknowledged as a sovereign nation. For most of a century— Sag Harbor whaling men—Masons all—showed the stars and stripes to the four corners of the world for the first time. Soon followed many memorable occasions when we were to see Masons and our flag honored around the world as well as in outer space—at the North Pole thanks to Admiral and Brother Byrd, the South Pole, thanks to Admiral and Brother Amundson, and Scott, and on the moon, thanks to Brothers “Buzz” Aldrin, and John Glenn. ln 1803, Admiral and Brother George Prebble’s Squadron was fighting against the Barbary pirates who were then infesting the Mediterranean Sea. On February 16, 1804, Commodore and Brother Stephen Decatur took the USS Intrepid into Tripoli Harbor under the guns of the fort and fleet, to bum the USS Philadelphia that had been captured after having accidentally run aground and the crew inhumanely tortured. In 1814, the nation’s Capitol was burned by the British during the War of 1812. On Lake Erie, Commodore and Brother O. H. Perry flew a flag that read: “Don’t Give Up The Ship,” and after the battle reported, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” On September 14, 1814, Brother Francis Scott Key, prisoner aboard a British man-of-war shelling Fort McHenry, wrote on the back of an envelope what was to become our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. In 1831, Captain and Brother Thomas Driver of the SS Charles Daggett received a delegation of ladies aboard ship who presented him with a new flag they had just made. He immediately ordered the new colors run up the mast and as he saluted declared, “l name thee Old Glory.” The name stuck. Bro. Driver was to carry “Old Glory’’ twice around the world. The year 1861 saw our nation tested as to whether it could survive as a nation united. Civil War. We were to suffer 650,000 casualties, more than for all wars combined until World War 11. And Brother James Gilmore wrote: “When. Johnny comes marching’ home...” It was during those terrible times that Brother elect (but never initiated) Abraham Lincoln described America as “a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...a nation under God that shall have a new birth of freedom and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth....” In 1892, Brother James P. Upham, publisher of Youths Companion Magazine, advanced the idea of a flag raising ceremony in all schools in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Sir Knight Christopher Columbus. Patriotic fervor swept the country. For an appropriate prayer filled with reverence, patriotism and love of country, for occasions such as these, the Rev. and Brother Francis J. Bellamy created America’s Pledge of Allegiance. Bro. Bellamy’s pledge was first used on Columbus Day, October 12, 1892 and was officially adopted on June 22, 1942, “under God” was added June 14,1954. And all through the terrible World War One we “kept our eye on that Grand Old Flag” as instructed by Bro. Geoge M. Cohan in his “ Grand Old Flag” rouser.

In 1941 we were again called upon to defend our freedom and that of weaker nations subjugated by power hungry dictators. We marched to Brother John Philip Sousa’s Semper Fidelis March, The National Emblem March and, of course, Stars and Stripes Forever. And, with the poetic genius of Brother Irving Berlin, we all asked “God to Bless America “

On August 3, 1949 a Master Mason and Knight Templar 80 years old and in failing health, came to Washington from Yeadon. Pa., to witness U.S. President and Brother Harry S Truman sign The Flag Day Act into law. Bro. William T. Kerr had, with other Masons, for more than a half century, appealed to every United States President from McKinley to Truman. He lead rallies and continually promoted the idea of a special day to honor “Old Glory.” Kerr died in 1953 but left his brethren this legacy, now the law of the land.

We see daily what Americans are doing to honor our flag. What are we Masons doing to honor the flag for which our Craft has played so important a role? We can ALL OF US honor our flag this coming June 14, 2002 in a special, collective way. Let us make Masonry proud of our contribution to our flag’s glory. Imagine if all America’s lodges on that memorable day were to join together in singing Brother Irving Berlin’s very special, musical gift to our flag, our nation and our craft of Freemasonry:

“God bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
with the light from the lights from above
From the mountains, to the prairies
to the oceans white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home
God bless America My home, sweet, home.”

And what if every Lodge - and/or Masonic District — were to hold special PUBLIC Flag Day ceremonies that June 14 — ? What a way for brethren to ask God to Bless America and remember September 11. So mote it be. Bro.Andy Boracci

Reprinted with the permission of Brother Andy Boracci
Editor and Publisher Of The
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