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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes April 2006

What Makes a Mason?

What makes you a Mason, O brother of mine?
It isn’t the dueguard, nor is it the sign,
It isn’t the jewel which hangs on your breast,
It isn’t the apron in which you are dressed,
It isn’t the step, nor the token, nor grip,
Nor lectures that fluently flow from the lip,
Nor yet the possession of that mystic word
On five points of fellowship duly conferred.
Though these are essential, desirable, fine,
They don’t make a Mason, O brother of mine.

That you to your sworn obligation are true—
’Tis that, brother mine, makes a Mason of you.
Secure in your heart you must safeguard your trust,
With lodge and with brother be honest and just
Assist the deserving who cry in their need,
Be chaste in your thought, in your word and your deed,
Support him who falters, with hope banish fear,
And whisper advice in an erring one’s ear.
Then will the Great Lights on your path brightly shine,
And you’ll be a Mason, O brother of mine.

Your use of life’s hours by the gauge you must try,
The gavel to vices with courage apply;
Your walk must be upright, as shown by the plumb,
On the level, to bourn whence no travelers come;
The Book of your faith be the rule and the guide,
The compass your passions shut safely inside;
The stone which the Architect placed in your care
Must pass the strict test of His unerring square,
And then you will meet with approval divine,
And you’ll be a Mason, O brother of mine.

(Source: George H. Free - A Treasury of Masonic Thought)

2006 Shrine Budget $649,000,000

The 22 Shriners Hospitals in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have a total budget of $649 million for 2006. Of that amount, $583 million is designated for the hospital operating budget; $33 million has been earmarked for the more than 140 research projects currently in process; and $33 million is designated for buildings and equipment expenditures.

(Source: Shrine News Release)

Freemasons and the U.S. Supreme Court

Service to country is a laudable virtue in any citizen. However, few are able to provide service on a truly national scale. It should be a point of pride for the Masonic Fraternity that many of our country’s public servants have also been Freemasons.

In the case of the United States Supreme Court, which has recently been the focus of the public media, 36 Justices have been Freemasons, five of whom have served as Chief Justice and three have also served as Grand Master of their state. Some of the more notable were Brothers Ellsworth, John Marshall, Taft, Jackson, Vinson, Warren and Thurgood Marshall.

Brother Oliver Ellsworth

Brother Oliver Ellsworth, nominated by Brother and President George Washington, served as the Supreme Court’s third Chief Justice from 1796 to 1800. He was a charter member of St. John’s Lodge at Princeton, N.J. Ellsworth was succeeded by Most Worshipful Brother John Marshall.

Brother John Marshall

Most Worshipful Brother Marshall served the Grand Lodge of Virginia as Grand Master from 1793 to 1795. He became a Mason during the Revolutionary War and was a member of Richmond Lodge #10 and later Richmond-Randolph Lodge #19. He served as Chief Justice from 1801 until his death in 1835.

As Chief Justice, he presided over the trial of Brother Aaron Burr for treason. Marshall has been referred to as the “father of the judiciary branch” for under his leadership, the Supreme Court became the final word on the constitutionality of both state and federal laws.

Brother William H. Taft

Ohio’s own Brother and President William H. Taft, nominated by another Ohio Brother, President Warren G. Harding, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930. Taft was made a “Mason at sight” by Grand Master Charles S. Hoskinson and later affiliated with Kilwinning Lodge #365 in Cincinnati.

Brother Robert H. Jackson

Brother Robert H. Jackson, appointed to the Supreme Court by Brother and President Franklin Roosevelt, also served as prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg. He was a member of Mt. Moriah Lodge #145, Jamestown, N.Y.

Brother Frederick M. Vinson

Brother Frederick M. Vinson served as Chief Justice from 1946 to 1953, having been nominated by Most Worshipful Brother and President Harry Truman. He was a member of Apperson Lodge #195 in Louisa, KY. He was succeeded as Chief Justice by Earl Warren.

Brother Earl Warren

Most Worshipful Brother Earl Warren served as Chief Justice from 1953 to 1969. During his tenure, the Supreme Court made sweeping changes in both Criminal and Civil Rights Law. Arguably, one of the most influential rulings was made in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education. This unanimous decision by the court ruled that separate was not equal in the case of public education and sounded the end of racial segregation.

Warren was a member of Sequoia Lodge #349 in Oakland, CA, and served as Grand Master of California from 1935 to 1936.

Brother Thurgood Marshall

Brother Thurgood Marshall, who had argued successfully before the Supreme Council as chief council in the Brown vs. Board of Education case, became the first African American member of the Supreme Court, serving from 1967 to 1991. He was a member of Coal Creek Lodge #88 under the Prince Hall Affiliated Grand Lodge of Oklahoma

Though they were diverse in their political and judicial opinions (17 were Democrats, five Federalists, two Democratic Republicans, and 12 Republicans—23 of whom were appointed by Presidents who were Masons), the service of these brothers to our country reminds us all that the rule of law is an indispensably vital part of our constitutional republic.

(Source: Bro. Chad Simpson – The Beacon, Grand Lodge of Ohio – Jan-Feb 2006)

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