My Brothers:

This will be my last column that I write to you [because of the position as R.W. Grand Secretary] and I want to use it to express my sincere appreciation to all of you for the opportunity that you gave me to serve. Twenty years ago, when I came to Philadelphia, I had no way of knowing that I would spend just short of one-third of my life in the position of Grand Secretary. It has been an experience that few have the privilege to realize -- and for that experience, I am grateful!

Freemasonry has afforded me an opportunity to meet some of the greatest people I have ever known and my life has been enriched by them. It has given me not only the opportunity, but also the stimulus, to learn. It taught me leadership skills and how to use them; but, most of all, it provided the lessons of a philosophy unmatched anywhere outside of it.

I established a little prayer shortly after arriving which stated simply, "Dear God, let me never forget where I came from and let me know when to quit." I trust that with my retiring I have fulfilled both parts of that little prayer. I certainly hope, my brothers, that I never forgot what my origins were and that I now leave before I stayed too long.

Looking back historically, I learned that I became the 29th Grand Secretary of our Grand Lodge in its 168 years and only the second to last in the position for 20 years. (Brother William Adams died in office shortly after starting his 23rd year in the mid-1800's). I found it significant that over a third of them died in office, and I have no ambition to have that asterisk beside my name. So, the time has come for another to succeed me.

I am totally aware that no one accomplishes much in life without the help of others. Man can be nothing more than a reflection of all of his life's experiences along with his modifications. So many persons have contributed to my life, and what I became is a reflection of them. That which is good is totally due to them. That which is not so good is due to my modifications. I can never give enough thanks to totally express my appreciation to all of you for what you have given to me. I know you will give the same to him who succeeds me.

I sincerely hope that I have fulfilled not only the responsibilities of my office, but also the expectations of each of you and those who preceded you during the years I have been here. My Brothers, I again thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve this great Craft of ours. May the Grand Architect of the Universe bless and guide each of you.

Sincerely and fraternally,
Thomas W. Jackson,
R.W. Past Grand Secretary