Volume LVAugust 2008Number 3

IX World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges

Hosted by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia F.A.A.M., the IX World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges was the largest international public gathering of Freemasons in Washington, D.C., since the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol building by President and Bro. George Washington on Sept. 18, 1793. Grand Masters representing the 120 Grand Lodges around the globe got together to discuss and promote Masonic and Grand Lodge integrity, global fraternal networking and cultivating ethical behavior and effective civic partnerships for the betterment of humanity.

On May 7, delegates enjoyed an opening reception at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Va., featuring tours of the exhibits and lodge rooms in the Memorial. During the opening ceremony the next day, Akram R. Elias, Grand Master of Masons of Washington, D.C., provided the opening remarks. Welcome letters from President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and Washington, D.C.'s Mayor, the Honorable Adrian Fenty, were read and received with applause. Simultaneous language interpretation services (available in Spanish, French, English and Portuguese) ensured that all attendees could understand the presentations and discourse.

On May 9, the Universal Brotherhood Lodge Meeting emphasized the global impact and influence of Freemasonry as the Grand Masters and other brethren from around the world gathered in the Scottish Rite Center in Washington, D.C., to observe or participate in the opening and closing of a lodge in the First Degree of Masonry performed using five different languages.

During the public Wreath Laying Ceremony on May 10 at the National World War II Memorial, each of the Grand Masters laid a wreath near the engraved name of his state or hemisphere to honor all Freemasons who died during World War II. Former Senator and Bro. Bob Dole made an unexpected visit as he led World War II veterans to the monument, many of whom were brethren who asked if they, too, could participate.

Many thanks to M.W. Edmund Cohen, Grand Master of Masons in Virginia, and photographer Bro. William J. Baumbach II, for providing the photographs and much of the information contained in this article.

"Several themes have been selected for this conference, which notes the need for the philosophy of the Craft to expose its relevancy in today's society while at the same time reminding us of our need of self-examination."
- Brother Thomas W. Jackson, Executive Secretary of the World Conference, R.W. Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, member of Lodge No. 315

"I appreciate all those involved with the Masonic Grand Lodges for your good hearts and your willingness to answer the universal call to love your neighbors. Your efforts demonstrate the best of the American spirit and inspire others to build a more hopeful society."
- President George W. Bush

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