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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes February 2005

National Conferences to Meet

February 20-22, 2005 will see Calgary, Alberta host the annual conferences of the Conference of Grand Masters in North America; the Conference of Grand Secretaries in North America; and the Annual Meeting of the Masonic Service Association of North America; the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association; National Masonic Foundation for Children; and the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America. It is a great time for the Masonic leaders of North America to come together to share ideas and concerns, as well as participate in well-planned programs.

Unique Gifts Help Shriners Hospitals

What do a racehorse and a vegetable farm have to do with the Shrine of North America? Believe it or not, they all work to support Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Monetary support for Shriners Hospitals comes in all shapes and sizes. While most Nobles dedicate their lives to helping Shriners' patients, many also donate their personal possessions, in hopes that those items will help fund the philanthropy for years to come. These items are known to the Shrine as "miscellaneous assets," and include everything from tradable securities like stocks and bonds, to farms, coin collections and insurance policies.

In 2003, the Shrine of North America held more than $64 million in miscellaneous assets. In the past, these have included farms, partnerships, patents, copyrights, insurance policies, collectibles, jewelry and once even breeding rights to a racehorse. The Shrine currently owns more than 700 pieces of property in 42 states; including 30,000 acres of productive farmland. The Shrine also has more than 1 million acres of mineral interests such as oil, gold, gas and granite, which earn royalties from production.

All monies earned from Shrine investments, including miscellaneous assets, go directly into the Shriners Hospitals operating budget, therefore directly impacting patient care. The 2004 operating budget is $554 million. In 2003, the yield from total investments was $180 million, with $6 million coming from miscellaneous assets alone.

 (Source: Shrine News Release)

Remember national salute to veterans week!

Congressional Cemetery

Tucked into a southeastern portion of the District of Columbia bounded by E and 17th Streets, S. E., and with one portion extending almost to the Anacostia River, lies a cemetery that has until recently gone largely unnoticed for years, even though almost within view of the United States Capitol. Predating the Grand Lodge, F.A.A.M. of the District of Columbia by five years, this cemetery was established in 1807 by a group of private citizens and in 1812, it was ceded to the vestry of Christ Church, the Washington Parish, and became known as the Washington Parish Burial Ground. The original cemetery was a 4.5 acre square immediately to the east of the present gatehouse. In 1846, the vestry changed the name to Washington Cemetery and began a series of land acquisitions that culminated in the present area of 32.5 acres.

Around 1816 the vestry set aside 100 burial sites for the exclusive use of Members of Congress, with burial privileges being extended to family members at a later date. The present name evolved when Congress added its own name to an appropriation for the "Congressional Cemetery." While the cemetery was, and still is, privately owned, it was truly the first national cemetery created by the federal government, predating Arlington National Cemetery by 60 years.

In the early years of the nineteenth century embalming had not yet become a general practice, and the disposition of human remains was usually accomplished relatively soon after death. Often, therefore, persons were interred near where they died.

While many famous people are interred there, most of those who are buried in Congressional Cemetery are not among the famous or the well-known. Indeed, some were without family or friends in the area and some of these were Masons. At the Grand Lodge Annual Communication in 1857, a resolution was introduced:

"That a Committee be appointed by this Grand Lodge to act in conjunction with such committees of the various Lodges of this Jurisdiction, as may be appointed to take into consideration the propriety of purchasing a plot of ground in one of the cemeteries within the District of Columbia for the burial of Brethren of the Order, who may be strangers, or who have no relations therein."

At the Semi-Annual Communication of Grand Lodge in 1858 the committee thus appointed reported that the vestry of Christ Church parish had offered "to let the Order have, in the Congressional Cemetery, in a most eligible portion thereof, sixty sites in four rows of 15 sites each."

(Source: The Voice of Freemasonry - Dec. 2004)

Editors Note: The Grand Lodge of DC, in an act of brotherly love and compassion, arranged for a last resting place for sojourning Masons who died in the city of Washington, DC and had no known relatives.


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