My Fellow Brethren,
Freemasonry has been good for me, and more importantly, in its fraternal philosophy, has shaped tradition on each side of my parental ancestry. In fact, to speak solely of my own appreciation of Masonic principle seems indulgent, lest I should forget to mention both my paternal and maternal lineage. Patriotic conviction and civic obedience guided two great-great grandfathers in my lineage to risk the ultimate sacrifice throughout the cataclysmic Civil War. Each and every time I travel home beneath the Mason-Dixon or view the Masonic memorial at Gettysburg, PA, many tears well up from deep inside as I consider their exemplary lives, and ultimately, their partisan views as to what "sovereignty" should constitute socially and politically, then and now, in these United States.
Benjamin Franklin Youngblood, my Confederate grandfather and brother in Wesson, Mississippi J.M. Lodge No. 317, enlisted in this state's cavalry, 4th Regiment, and founded his own mercantile and dry goods business in the postwar years. He became quite successful, and he eventually ran for public office at both the local and county levels. And while he aspired to even greater participation within the state political arena, the Reconstruction years were not always hospitable to Confederate veterans in their own home regions. Undaunted by this "carpetbagger" backlash, Benjamin Youngblood remained an active civic fixture in the life of Wesson until his crossing over in 1927, insomuch that his children, following their father's lead, were major contributors to the founding and funding of Copiah-Lincoln Community College in this same region of southern Mississippi.
On the Union side of this great conflict stands James Hamilton Davis, my other great-great grandfather. Ironically, it is with pride that through this patriarch and his surname that my family and I are direct kin to Jefferson Davis, late president of the Confederate States of America. In the postwar years, James Hamilton was raised in Mount Moriah Lodge No. 300 near Water Street, Pennsylvania, and became active in political affairs so as to eventually hold the office of county auditor. Like B.F. Youngblood in the early years of the 20th century, he passed on a well-known and respected Mason, firm both in his adherence to promoting the common good, and as a veteran in a reunited and stronger country, "to making good men better men".
Having seen the horrors of war, both grandfathers as respected community pillars, strengthened their home environs only to endure more tragedy. Both would bury their first wives, my great-great grand mothers, and nearly all of their children to these respective marriages.an became too cynical, brash or egocentric. While it could easily be said that each of these men had differing points of view and that nationally it came to blows, their mutual goals as Masons were honed by the same extremes and were intrinsically similar. In the final analysis, theirs is a dignity of character I could only hope to possess; theirs is a Masonic legacy I am blessed to know and be akin to.
I am honored - so mote it be!
Kevin G. Young
Ed Note: Reflections! will be a regular feature of The Pennsylvania Freemason. If you would like to reflect on how Freemasonry has affected your life and family, or if you would like to reflect on a Brother of the Craft, please write to: Editor, The Pennsylvania Freemason, 5415 Fifth Ave., Suite 102B, Pittsburgh, PA 15232-2256.
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