Volume LIVNovember 2007Number 4

Veterans Grove Dedication
The Veterans Grove Dedication was the focal event during Autumn Day at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown on Sept. 15. While the sun dried away the morning rain in plenty of time for the ceremony, it wasn't long before there was not a dry eye in the crowd. Following a musical prelude by the Bainbridge Band, a flyover of 193rd Special Operations Wing C-130 Hercules signaled the start of the dedication. Following introductions by Bro. Joseph E. Murphy, CEO for the Masonic Villages, the service branch flags were presented by the following veterans: Army flag by Bro. Tom M. Werner, Corporal, World War II, Prospect Lodge No. 578, Prospect Park, Masonic Village resident; Navy flag by Bro. Russell W. Baker, Master Chief Petty Officer, Howell Lodge No. 405, Honey Brook, Masonic Village resident; Marine flag by Jeffrey L. Kincaid, Marine, Masonic Village employee; Air Force flag by Bro. William G. Atherton, Staff Sergeant, World War II, Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown, Masonic Village resident; and the Coast Guard flag by Bro. Raymond A. Vaughan, Chief Warrant Officer Grade, Eureka Lodge No. 302, Mechanicsburg, Masonic Village resident. The leader for the Presentation of the Service Flags was Bro. Chester W. Brown, Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, Air Weather Services, World War II, Isaac Heister Lodge No. 660, West Reading, Masonic Village resident.

Ronald A. Aungst, Sr., R.W. Grand Master, welcomed the crowd and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The national anthem was performed by Bro. Raymond E. Foose, Grand Lodge Soloist. Rev. David L. Danneker, Ph.D., St. Peter's Catholic Church, Elizabethtown, provided the invocation.

All veterans were invited to stand or raise their hand and be recognized during the playing of their service branch song.

The guest speaker was Bro. and Superior Court of Pennsylvania Judge Seamus McCaffery, Richard Vaux-Ivanhoe Lodge No. 384, Philadelphia. Once an Irish immigrant of meager means, Bro. McCaffery said, "I live the American dream every single day... I am a living example of what this country is all about... You are American by birth - I am American by choice."

Directing his words to the Masonic Village residents in the audience, he said, "I am humbled by you, the greatest of all generations. When the call came, none of you backed down; you proudly served. You are my heroes, my history books. The young troops serving today, they are our future."

"I have been blessed by the opportunity to serve with World War II veterans, veterans from Vietnam, Korea, up to the current War for Iraqi Freedom," Bro. McCaffery said. He described the young men and women proudly wearing their uniforms in our armed forces as strong, tough and dedicated professionals, "willing to give their lives without hesitation, just as you were willing, 20, 30, 40 or more years ago."

"When the call came, none of you backed down... you proudly served. You are my heroes, my history books. The young troops serving today, they are our future."
- Bro. and Superior Court Judge Seamus McCaffery

Following the singing of "God Bless America," Bro. and Rev. A. Preston Van Deursen, Director of Pastoral Care for the Masonic Villages, read Psalm 27:1-3 and Psalm 67:1-7 and provided the benediction.

Following a rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever," written by Bro. John Philip Sousa, the ceremony concluded with a flyover by a B25J Mitchell Bomber from the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, Reading. Grand Master Aungst thanked all veterans present and summed up the feelings of the audience: "It is my greatest honor to be here today among all who have served for us to have the freedom we enjoy today." The Grand Lodge Officers then invited the attendees to view the Veterans Grove Monument.
About the Veterans Grove...

In 1920, Robert Burns Lodge No. 464, Harrisburg, contributed funds for the planting of 268 oak trees on the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown campus, as a living representation of the Masons who died serving our country during World War I.

Honoring veterans is important to the fraternity and society as a whole. As part of the Masonic Village's master plan, updating and enhancing our Memorial Grove into the renamed Veterans Grove was an essential priority.

The renovations to the monument encourage reflection of wars past and the continuing potential for peace and freedom. The Veterans Grove has been restored to its original splendor with the planting of 123 oak trees to bring the number back to 268. The stone pathway leading up to the monument displays the various conflicts our nation fought, beginning with the Revolutionary War through current conflicts. The entrance and tablets throughout the monument proclaim the inspirational words of those who have led our country during times of unrest, leading up to the Word of God, upon which our country was founded.

The walking paths, picnic area and future restroom facilities are provided for family and friends to take time to remember, honor and pray for those currently serving in our Armed Forces and pay respect to all veterans who have served to preserve our freedom.

The design of the Veterans Grove Monument, renovation and construction was graciously donated by Reese, Lower, Patrick and Scott Architects, Ltd., of Lancaster.

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