Volume LVAugust 2008Number 3

Stephen Gardner
R.W. Grand Master

Brethren:

September 26 will mark the 135th Anniversary of the dedication of our Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. I recently came across an excerpt from a report by Bro. Samuel C. Perkins, R.W. Past Grand Master (1872-1873) that illuminated the vision and hope our forefathers had for this building as it was being constructed. He described it as "...one of the greatest works ever carried on by Masons in any part of the world, or in any age in its history, for which who will doubt the approval of the Divine Architect-that the blessings of Heaven will rest upon us? That it will strengthen the unity of the Order? Increase its influence, and advance the practice of these principles of religion and morality we are taught within it?

"We believe that it will increase the influence and usefulness of the Order, add increased reputation to the honor and dignity of the Grand Lodge, and, that its fame, extending far and wide to the uttermost ends of the earth, our brethren from every clime will seek its portals to hear the wisdom that God has put in the great Masonic heart of the Masons of Pennsylvania, and that the bonds of the Masonic Fraternity and love will be thereby extended and strengthened around the globe."

Indeed, Pennsylvania Freemasonry has remained strong, as evidenced in the pages listing our 50-Year Service Emblem recipients in 2008. And so should be our determination to Protect Our Heritage for Future Generations by preserving the architectural masterpiece that is home to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. We recently returned to the Grand Lodge of Cyprus, which we co-founded back in 2006. Grand Master Jacob Varcos, the Cypriot Grand Lodge officers and their families all hosted us with unending fraternal and personal hospitality on this reunion visit with our Cypriot brothers. During this visit, again witnessing their efforts on behalf of our beloved fraternity, only reaffirmed our position that our Cypriot brothers are major contributors to our global Masonic community. On the return from our visit in Cyprus, we were hosted by the Grand Master of Greece, Nicolas Vourgidis, their entire Grand Lodge line and their families in Athens, Greece. Our visit in their Grand Lodge was yet another remarkable fraternal experience. As in Cyprus, we were made to feel completely at home by the warm and open reception of our Grecian brothers.

In these two lands of powerful histories, rich heritage, a people of compelling fraternal and national pride, we were truly treated as lifelong friends. We are truly blessed to have friends such as these who know no limit to their hospitality and fraternalism. Our lives are now, and forever will be, richer because of having these brethren and their families as friends. To our Cypriot and Grecian brothers: "Efharisto poli."

It was only a few months later when we all met again in Washington, D.C., at the World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges, where it became incredibly clear just how global our fraternity really is... and what a tremendous honor we enjoy knowing that we have brothers-friends-in places where many of us have never even travelled.

Throughout this issue, you will read about many of our brethren who have done great things, within and outside of our fraternity. Through the Change for the Troops program, we have been able to do great things on behalf of Freemasonry. This opportunity to support our service men and women in the theater of operations has been embraced with incredible enthusiasm. We have even had many brethren, either from out-of-state or who cannot physically attend lodge meetings, send their contributions to their lodge secretaries because they so sincerely want to participate.

Recently, the Grand Lodge officers and I have had a few opportunities to see, first-hand, what the cards mean to the troops themselves, knowing that as they are departing for the war zone they will have the ability to talk to their loved ones back home. We've also experienced how much the troops appreciate our thoughts and prayers from home. In this issue, you will read about and see the faces of just a few of the men and women who are Earning it Again for us today.

During a recent open ceremony where I had the honor of presenting 50-Year Service Emblems to brethren in District 36, we had the opportunity to hear from a father whose son, an Army Ranger, departed for Iraq 18 months ago and received one of our calling cards. He came to the open presentation to give his personal thanks to the fraternity because his son was able to call home this past Mother's Day, thanks to the calling card. He then shared a photograph of all the men in his son's Special Forces unit in the theater of operations. His son was the only one in his unit to receive one of our cards, and yet on Memorial Day, two of the men in the photograph were killed in the line of duty. This harsh look at reality was extremely meaningful, as it was obvious to all present that these calling cards really do make a difference, because each time they make a call, our troops never know if it will be the last time they will hear their loved ones' voices.

In the next few months, there are many opportunities to join in fraternal fellowship: Autumn Day, charity golf tournaments and the holiday galas, to name a few. You've heard it said many times: you will get out of membership what you put into it. I encourage you to make a commitment to attend lodge regularly beginning this September. Rediscover the true treasures within our fraternity-you will find them sitting among you!

Sincerely & fraternally,
R.W. Grand Master

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