My brethren this honor that has been bestowed upon me
is something that I never even dared to dream would happen. I have seen
so many other brethren receive this honor and sat there, watch them in
awe and listen to their words but here I am and I am going to make the
best of it.
I look out at this audience and I marvel at who is here and
how many friends I have but there are some that are missing. I am going
to mention a few. My dad is missing, Ill. Brother Richard Ingham is missing
and Ill. Brother Ingham I think was great man. He volunteered continuously
at our Cleveland masonic library since 1945. He was the most informed
mason I ever knew. I use to kid him that if he did not know the answer
he made one up, but I miss him. The other one is Ill. Brother Ross Black
who was an inspiration to me and did so much to further my Scottish Rite
career, and I really miss him. His two sons are here with us today, wouldn't
he be proud.
I am going to take a moment to tell you what masonry means
to me. When I joined the masons I was half way around the world serving
in the United States Navy on Guam. I was home sick. I was home sick for
4 solid years. I missed my mother and father, and masonry filled that
gap for me. It gave me something to look forward to and I don't know how
well I would have done without it but the way it came about is from the
time I was 10 years old I knew that I would be a mason. My dad was a mason.
My grandfather was a mason. My dad discussed masonry from the time I was
a little boy and pretty much knew that someday I would be a mason too.
So when my 21st birthday was nearing my dad wrote to me and asked me if
I had given any more thought to joining masonry. I wrote back and asked
what do I have to do and he said what you have to do is find a mason.
Well it just happened that I had five or six friends in Guam that were
masons, so I went to one of them and asked what do I have to do to become
a mason. And several of them set me aside and ask me why I wanted to become
a mason. What do you know about masonry. Obviously I answered these questions
correctly. Because they told me why don't you write your dad and ask him
for a petition for his lodge. And then we will put on the degrees here
as a courtesy to your lodge. Well that is what I did. I turn 21 in July.
I received my EA in January. That will give you some idea as to how long
it took the two grand lodges, the Grand Lodge of Ohio and the Grand Lodge
of the Philippines to complete the paper work. Now as I said what masonry
did for me was to fill a gap in my life. I was lonely and I found that
by associating with these good men I was happy.
We hear all these quotes
about we take good men and make them better but to me it meant security.
Every time I walked into a masonic hall and this has been over 40 years
I have a sense of warmth. I know I am where I should be. I am with friends
and have a sense of well being. I know if I were to ask each of you what
masonry meant to you I would have as many answers. To this wonderful class
that has been named in my honor, I just want to warn you that you have
just seen the tip of the iceberg, that you must come back and I emphasize
that you must come back to see the rest of the degrees. You will begin
to receive the Scottish Rite News regularly. You have one in your packet.
And you will see all the programs that are offered by the Valley of Cleveland.
And we hope you will partake in as many of the activates as you can. The
four coordinate bodies of the Scottish Rite, meet once a month and you
are now a member and are invited to come to those meetings. Do not walk
out this evening and say I am a 32 degree mason and let it go at that,
because you have only seen a small portion of what Scottish Rite Masonry
has to offer. I have been a Scottish rite mason since the early 70's and
every time I come down here I learn something I did not know.
I hope today
as you entered our building that you had a chance to see our Masonic Library,
this is one of the finest Masonic Libraries in the country, in the world
for that matter. We have some artifacts that are priceless, that you will
find in no other place. So we invite you to stop in for a few minutes
to become acquainted with this facility.
This is also the home of the
32 Degree Masonic Learning Center for children with dyslexia you may have
heard about it. We work with children that have dyslexia with no charge
to them. The only responsibility to the parents is to furnish transformation
for the child. It has been very successful, we hope you will acquaint
yourself with the center which is across the hall from the library.
hope you have a chance to tour this wonderful building that was finished
in 1922. This was a major city auditorium, opera and the Cleveland Orchestra
played here. Most of the Cleveland Orchestra recordings were done here.
I was reading my bibliography the other day that David Mackey so expertly
put together when I got done reading it I didn't even know that I belonged
to all those bodies. I also wondered how I did it. I was working 40 hours
a week. I was raising 3 children. I serviced as Worshipful Master of my
Lodge and High Priest of my Royal Arch Chapter and a District Deputy Grand
High Priest for 5 years. I went through the Grand Line of the Grand Chapter
of Royal Arch Masons that took 8 years and my children understood that
I loved masonry and how did I really do it? One tiny women she was my
partner, my love, she still is. She never criticized me for all the nights
that I was not home, believe me there were many nights when Diane was
home alone. It was shortly after 9.11 and she was feeling a little bit
blue and reminiscing about how good our life was together she wrote this
poem on Sept 17, 2002. I will read it to you at this time.
A Masons Wife
What wonderful people we've met all over the state;
all the lasting friendships have been great. My husband is a mason, heart
and soul; to a lot of meeting I could go. I wish all masons wives could
understand; the masons have helped our husbands to be better men. What
great and good things masons do for others: a lot of us wives become better
mothers. How proud I am to be a mason's wife; I don't know what would
have happened in my life. What kind of world it would be if I wasn't a
masons wife, my husband let me be. When I die and if there is another
life; I hope I'll still be a mason's wife.
I traveled this state from corner to corner I usually traveled with my
good friend Joseph Jambor and his wife Elizabeth. Every one here knows
that joe and I are joined at the hip. As we would travel and talk and
I said that do you realized that we have been on every inch Interstate
in Ohio, he said yes and not only that but we knew where every pizza hut
was in the state. If we pulled into a town and there was no pizza hut
we knew that they were not civilized, and moved on the next town to eat.
The year I was Grand High Priest we traveled over 45,000 miles. One day
we came back from Marietta during a bad snowstorm, we made it sometimes
going sideways on ice but we made it. The only bad thing that happened
to us was that one night we hit a deer or should I say I hit a deer. That
was our only bad experience now we can sit back and laugh at it. It was
not funny at the time that is the story of how I become a mason and what
masonry means to me.
I would like to thank the chairman of the board of
trustees and the officers of the four coordinate bodies that have extended
this honor to me and one that I shall never forget and to the class that
has been named after me I say once again my brethren please come back.
You won't be sorry masonry is a learning process it has no beginning or
end. You have to study it to get something out of it.
Hello, Remember Me?
Some people call me old glory, others call me the star spangled banner,
but whatever they call me. I am your flag, the flag of the United States
of America. Something has been bothering me, so I thought I might talk
it over with you because it is about you and me. I remember sometime ago
people lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade and naturally,
I was leading the parade, proudly waving in the breeze, when your daddy
saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed it against his
left shoulder so that the hand was directly over his heart... Remember?
And you, I remember you standing there straight as a soldier, you didn't
have a hat, but you were there giving me the right salute. Remember little
sister? Not to be outdone she was saluting the same as you with her hand
over her heart. Remember? What Happened? I'm still the same old flag.
Oh I have a few more stars since you were a boy, alot more blood has been
shed since those parades of long ago, But now I don't feel as proud as
I used to. When I come down your street you just stand there with your
hands in your pockets and I may get a small glance and then you look away.
Then I see the children running around and shouting. They don't seem to
know who I am. I saw one man take his hat off then look around, he didn't
see anyone else with theirs off so he quickly put his back on. Is it a
sin to be patriotic anymore? Have you forgotten what I stand for and where
I've been? Anzio, Guadalcanel, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf war, Afgnanistan,
and Iraq. Take a look at the memorial honor rolls sometimes, of those
who never came back to keep this republic free, One nation under God.
When you salute me, you are actually saluting them. Well it won't be long
until I'll be coming down your street again. So, When you see me, stand
straight, place your hand over your heart and I'll salute you, be waving
back... and I'll know that you remember.