Earlier this year, Robert L. Dluge, Jr., R.W. Grand Master, asked all lodges in Pennsylvania to honor veterans as an important part of their programming for November. To assist the lodges, the Masonic Education/ Training Committee of the Grand Lodge compiled a manual of program suggestions that is packed with historical information and ideas for activities. The worshipful master of every Pennsylvania lodge should have received it late in September.

The manual has two very informative sections. First is the "Introduction," which is not meant to be a welcome message for the manual, but is material for a perfect beginning for a lodge program. It contains a chronology, historical facts, experiences, and philosophy surrounding Veterans Day, the military, and Americanism with which a presenter can set an exciting stage for activities recognizing veterans. Then, as one would expect in a program guide, the manual offers 18 suggested activities from which the lodge can choose to carry out.

The opening segment, entitled "We Honor Our Masonic Veterans," chronicles military involvement and actions of citizens and servicemen from the early colonies through today. It cites the "War for Independence," the War of 1812 that gave the new nation a second victory and an opportunity to solidify its freedom and gain recognition abroad, and the military action of 1845 through which this country gained Texas and territory in the West.

Recalled is the War Between the States with its internal quarrel between brothers from the North and the South. Then, there was the Spanish-American War in 1898, when Puerto Rico became a U. S. territory. In the Pacific, we took control of the Philippine Islands which continued until July 4, 1946.

"The new century changed the nature of conflicts to wars of a worldwide scope," the manual reports. World War I was called "The War to End All Wars," but in less than two decades there was World War II. The Introduction continues, "Since the end of World War II, ... (the U.S.) has taken on a larger role as a keeper of the peace .... sent troops to Korea ... (and) has had troops stationed there since the 1950's. A regional war in Viet Nam .... the recent foray to the Persian Gulf...."

The motivation and determination for citizenry to fight for one's country comes through clearly in a brief segment entitled, "Those Who Served Their Country." It expounds upon the driving forces for the colonists who volunteered to be soldiers in the Continental Army.

"America owes a great debt of gratitude to its Masonic veterans and all veterans," the program emphasizes in a section of "What The Veterans Have Done For Us." "The cemeteries in Arlington, in Gettysburg, and in France show, in a very vivid way, those who made the supreme sacrifice ...."

There are several Veterans Hospitals in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Coatesville, Butler, Erie, Wilkes Barre, Aspinwall (Pittsburgh), and Altoona. All lodges and individual Masons are urged to support those hospitals and to visit the veterans there. In addition, lodge officers, particularly the secretaries, should assure that all hospitalized veterans' dues are kept current.

The "Honor Our Veterans" program was created and compiled by the Masonic Training/Education Committee to help the officers of the lodges fulfill the Grand Master's request for blue lodges to honor veterans in November.

Other stories that honor those who served

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National Sojourners Are Veterans Dedicated To Americanism, Patriotism and Fraternity