Saturday, March 18, 2006

St. Patrick's and Masons

Let me start off by telling you that there is no connection between St. Patrick's Day and Masons. I will however write about both on this post. On the former, I feel some obligation to hope you all had a Happy St. Patrick's Day. There is no Irish in me. The only Irish part of me is my name, Shaine. So, I guess I have some inkling of obligation to wish you a Happy St. Patrrick's Day. That is all. There is also a part of me who is Catholic who also wishes you a Happy St. Patrick's Day. So, I hope you had a fun day and drank plenty of beer. If you can swing it, try a six pack of Guinness. If you remember at what point you lost consciousness, you're cool. I know what is going on by the fourth Guinness. Numbers 5 and 6 are usually related to me the next day, accompanied by a headache.

As for the Masons, I want to announce that I'll be writing about the influence of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, also called Freemasons, on the history of the United States, Texas, and the Rio Grand Valley. As I've mentioned before, I am a Master Mason. More than that, I am a Scottish Rite Mason and a Shriner. You may know the Shriners. They are the guys with the maroon fez who show up at parades and help burnt and crippled children. I be one of them. For your information, you need to be a Mason to be a Shriner. Therefore, all Shriners are Masons.

I learned about the death of one of my Masonic brothers last year, Marlyn Kirk, some time this year, and it has weighed on me. He was in his 80's. His death was not unexpected given his age, but still, he is the first of my masonic brethren to die since I joined the fraternity. There is another masonic brother who has inspired me, John Hawkins, an English World War II RAF pilot. He has told me stories of his experience as a pilot. His wife has related her experience as a civilian in Scotland during that time. There are many other masons at the Mission Masonic Lodge, and other RGV Lodges, with interesting stories. I haven't been to lodge in years due to my last job and now because of my classes. I will make the effort to go back this Summer. I miss the wise counsel that I received from this group of seasoned men.

As I conduct research, I want to let you know that Masons have had a major impact on the history of the United States, Mexican, and Texas history. Unfortunately, due to the modern practice of children going away for college and staying away from their hometown, the tradition of becoming a mason like your father has suffered a great deal. I am one of the younger Master masons in Texas. The majority of masons are now retired and dying, like our WWII veterans. I am afraid that this centuries old fraternity will come to an indifferent end. There aren't that many young masons joining these days, which is sad. Many of you, if you are in your 30's and 40's, may have had an uncle, father, or grandfather who was a Mason. You may have asked him about his ring or about the symbol of the square and compass. If you've been to old buildings with cornerstones, Mexican plazas, or a myriad of other places, you've probably seen the square and compass symbol somewhere. That's a sign that masons were involved. The Grand Lodge of Texas, for example, leveled the cornerstone for the Fine Arts Auditorium at UTPA back in the 1960s. There is a masonic lodge not too far from the Hidalgo County courthouse in Edinburg. McAllen has a great masonic lodge. Most towns in the Rio Grande Valley have a masonic lodge.

I found out that to become a mason, you ask one. That's all. To be one, ask one. I didn't know it when I joined the fraternity that I could become a Shriner. Now, I realize that I will eventually be responsible for the continued effort to raise money for the Shriner's Hospitals when all my masonic brethren have passed on to meet the Grand Architect of the Universe. I prefer to honor these men while they are still alive (most of my masonic brothers are retired, while I am 31 years old). So, I will devote some effort to honor them in the coming weeks.

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