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Masonic Service Association of North America

 Emessay Notes December 2004

National Treasure

The new movie National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage, opened in theaters across the nation on November 19, 2004. It quickly rose to be the highest grossing film ($35.3 million in ticket sales) of the weekend and has already generated an extremely wide public awareness of Freemasonry. Most importantly, it portrays Masonry in a positive light and accents the significance of the Founding Fathers to our national identity. Many of these early patriots identified as Masons in the film, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are well known. Only one reference is not correct. Early in the movie, Charles Carroll, identified as the last survivor of the 56 patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence, is portrayed as a Freemason. Charles Carroll of Maryland was not a member of the fraternity. (Historically, it is believed the reason he was identified as a Mason is that he was present at the laying of the cornerstone of the B&O Railroad.)

Most of the movie is entirely fictional. There is no "National Treasure," as defined by the film, nor were Freemasons as a group ever involved in collecting and safeguarding valuable antiquities on behalf of all humanity. Nevertheless, Masonic principles and values are referenced many times in the film, and the audience receives a very favorable impression of the Craft.

The movie is rated PG because of "mild violence." It really is a family movie, and one all Masons should enjoy. It might even be fun for a lodge to have a "movie night" and sponsor members and their families who wish to attend. Discussions about the film should result in many beneficial insights regarding Freemasonry among both Masons and the general public.

Did You Know? What is meant by token?

A thing indicative of some other things; a sign; tangible proof of a statement; a pledge. Anglo-Saxon tacen, a sign or type. In the Great Light: "It shall be a token of a covenant" appears more than once. In Freemasonry the token is the special handclasp; the "sign," the gesture which a brother gives to another. It is called a token because it represents the covenant of friendship and fellowship the making of which is a part of the inner heart of the Masonic degrees.

(Source: MSA Digest - Masonic Vocabulary)

The World's Oldest Mason Dies

Brother Fred Hale, the oldest man, and the oldest Mason in the world has died. Bro. Hale was a member of Franklin Lodge #123 in New Sharon, Maine. He had been a Mason for 83 years. Fred's son has been a Mason for 60 years.

Fred Hale, Sr., documented as the world's oldest man died Nov. 19, 2004. He was 113 years old. Hale died in his sleep Friday at the Nottingham in suburban Syracuse, while trying to recover from a bout of pneumonia, said his grandson, Fred Hale, III. He was 12 days shy of his 114th birthday.

Born Dec. 1, 1890, Hale last month watched his lifelong favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, win the World Series again after 86 years. Hale retired 50 years ago as a railroad postal worker and beekeeper, his grandson said. He enjoyed gardening, canning fruits and vegetables and making homemade applesauce. "He had a routine and he rarely broke it because anyone else was around," Hale III told The Post-Standard of Syracuse. "He didn't need a lot to be happy."

At age 95, Hale flew to Japan to visit a grandson who was in the Navy. While en route back to the United States, he stopped in Hawaii and even gave boogie-boarding a try.

At 103, Hale was still living on his own and shoveling the snow off his rooftop. He was born in New Sharon, Maine. 

(Source: Excerpt from The Post-Standard - Nov. 20, 2004)

Cornerstone (Un)Laying Ceremony

The Carnegie Library building was originally built as a public library in 1904, thanks to a grant from Pittsburgh steel and railroad magnate Andrew Carnegie, who provided funding for many public libraries in the United States. In Charles City, the Carnegie funds were increased by donations from local citizens and a one-mill tax levy. The cornerstone was dedicated on Oct. 8, 1904.

The Masonic Grand Lodge of Iowa will be on hand to conduct what it believes may be the first ever Cornerstone (Un)Laying Ceremony in the state on Oct. 8, 2004. This unique ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 pm at the southeast corner of the Charles City Arts Center, which currently occupies the historic building at 301 North Jackson St.

The original cornerstone of the building was laid on October 4, 1904, by the Grand Lodge of Iowa. It is only fitting, then, that the cornerstone will be "unlaid" with the assistance of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Iowa and the state Masonic officers.

A time capsule behind the cornerstone will be removed and taken into the Arts Center following the Masonic Grand Lodge ceremony, where it will be opened and its contents displayed at an Arts Council reception.

(Source: Charles City Press - Oct. 6, 2004)

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