The "Building of the Flag" is completed at the conclusion of the presentation by Maj. Robert A. Weekly (left) and LTC James R. Smith, P.M., both of Poor Richard Camp of Heroes of '76 and Benjamin Franklin Chapter of National Sojourners. Bro. Weekly is Commander of the Camp and Bro. Smith is the Area Representative of the North Atlantic Area of National Sojourners.
National Sojourners is an organization of Masonic veterans staunchly dedicated to Americanism, patriotism, and the Fraternity. Its members are Master Masons who are U. S. citizens and commissioned or warrant officers, past and present, of the uniformed services of the United States, having served honorably in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, or National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. In addition, honorary members may be elected to chapters of the National Sojourners.
Their purposes are: To promote good fellowship among its members; assist those who may be overtaken by adversity or affliction; cultivate Masonic ideals; support all patriotic aims and activities in Masonry; develop true patriotism and Americanism throughout the nation; further the military need of national defense; and oppose any influence whatsoever calculated to weaken the national security. They work to achieve their purposes by recognizing students with military interests and by proclaiming, demonstrating, and teaching Americanism and patriotism.
Across Pennsylvania, there are eight chapters of the National Sojourners: Benjamin Franklin No. 16, Philadelphia; Fort Pitt No. 38, Pittsburgh; Harrisburg No. 76; Carlisle No. 130; Lancaster No. 292; Valley Forge No. 444, Phoenixville; Lycoming No. 509, Williamsport; and Penmar No. 532, Waynesboro.
Among those chapters, as many as 50 Americanism medals are presented each year to students in R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corps) and Junior R.O.T.C. units in educational institutions across the state. Recommendations for the awards come from the R.O.T.C. staffs of the institutions, based upon basic criteria established by the respective military service organizations, including academic standing and class involvement. Then, the National Sojourners' criteria require that each recipient has encouraged and demonstrated the ideals of Americanism by deed or conduct, or both, and has demonstrated a potential for outstanding leadership.
"Building of the Flag" is an Americanism program documenting the history of our flag as the various colonies and territories became states. Usually presented by four brethren in colonial uniforms, the historical presentation begins with events before the Revolution and concludes with those related to the present 50-starred flag. It documents the country's progress, stripe by stripe and star by star. The 35-minute program is excellent for any audience and is well received within the Fraternity or among the public, whether adult or youth.
Brethren in Sojourners chapters are "on the road" presenting a program called "The Bridge of Light," designed to promote a liaison, a bonding, an interweaving, a better understanding, and a friendship between National Sojourners and the Family of Freemasonry. It is an effort to keep alive the respect for the veterans and increase Sojourners membership. Through The Bridge of Light program, lodges, appendant Masonic bodies, allied clubs, and units gain programs and other assistance, especially with patriotic endeavors.
National Sojourners have their heroes -- "Heroes of '76," an affiliate, or auxiliary organization composed of Sojourners who have had an inspiring patriotic degree conferred upon them in recognition of exemplary service to Freemasonry, the National Sojourners, or the government.
The national headquarters for Sojourners are at Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism on a property that once was one of Brother, General, and President George Washington's river farms fronting on both the Potomac River and the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Alexandria, VA. Not only does Collingwood house the Sojourners' headquarters, its archives have acquired, catalogued, processed, protected, and displayed for the public an outstanding collection of documents, literature, and artifacts that promote, enhance, and inspire patriotism. Toward that end, the Foundation has amassed more than 6,000 volumes relating to American history, more than 400 books relating to Freemasonry in Colonial America, and 80 volumes on early British Masonry. The Sojourners had a collection of nearly 50 American Grand Lodge Masonic Codes and histories which were turned over to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial where they can be better preserved. Of great interest at Collingwood is the "Heroes Room," dedicated to Masonic heroes who risked their lives, their honor, and their fortunes to help establish this Republic. There is a 29-minute video tape suitable for a meeting program available for loan by contacting Collingwood, 8301 E. Boulevard Dr., Alexandria, VA 22308. Phone (703) 765-5000.
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