Pennsylvania Freemasons continue their strong support of our military under
the direction of R.W. Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon through a new program title,
"Help for Our Heroes." While donations will continue to provide pre-paid calling
cards to Pennsylvania military units as they deploy to war zones or upon request by those
already deployed, Help for Our Heroes will also focus on providing calling cards and
other essential needs to hospitalized military men and women.
THE NEED IS GREAT.
The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania,
through your generous donations, is sending
100 calling cards each month to injured
troops recovering at the Landstuhl Regional
Medical Center in Germany, because casualty
rates continue to rise. Calling cards also have
been sent to Bagram's SSG Heath N. Craig
Joint Theater Hospital in Afghanistan for
troops receiving medical care there.
Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks, Brotherhood
Lodge No. 126, Philadelphia, has meetings
scheduled with representatives from stateside
military hospitals in Washington, D.C., and
VA Hospitals in Pennsylvania to ascertain
what their special needs are for patients,
whether it be clothing, upgrades for patient
rooms, etc. Funds contributed to Help for
Our Heroes will go toward meeting those
needs as well.
Grand Master Sturgeon's dedication to
our military was represented through the
"Missing Men Table & Honors Ceremony"
that Col. and Bro. Harris Brooks led at
the beginning of the Annual Grand
The moving ceremony, full of symbolism,
honors our Prisoners of War, those Missing
in Action and Killed in Action. It can
be modified to suit local requirements
and occasions. At the Annual Grand
Communication banquet, the ceremony
was conducted in the following fashion:
- A table is set for one, an empty place setting representing service men and women who are unable to be in attendance.
- The chair is empty as a reminder of his absence, but saved for his hoped return. While attendees remain standing for a moment of silent prayer, the Honor Guard places six caps, to represent the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and a civilian, on the table.
- The table is round, to show our everlasting concern for these missing men and women.
- A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
- A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
- The glass is inverted, to symbolize his inability to share this evening's toast.
- The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America.
- The vase is tied with a ribbon, a symbol of our unyielding determination to account for our comrades who are not among us tonight.
- The candle is the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation. It is lit to remember that America will always be the light in a world of darkness.
- The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
- The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return, and have paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure our freedom.