In February we honor our Presidents with Presidents Day. Its worthy of noting that 14 of our presidents were Master Masons and 2 started their degrees, but due to the rigors of being elected to public office did not achieve Master Mason. All of them were proud of their Masonic heritage. Did they become presidents because they were masons? Most likely not. Did masonry help form their character into the type of person with the judgment and integrity of a leader to be president? Most definitely! The four virtues of Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance, Justice and tenants of brotherly love relief and truth help form our character that, “The world may know when a person is said to be a member of it he is one who’s hand is guided by justice and who’s heart is expanded by benevolence”. President McKinley became a mason upon observing fraternal kindnesses exchanged between masons in the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War. President Franklyn Roosevelt said, “Masonry . . .really did live up to what we, as a government, are pledged to — of treating each man on his merits as a Man”.
At our country’s first inauguration George Washington surprised inaugural protocol by asking to take his oath upon a bible. Jacob Morton, who was Marshal of the parade, and at that time Master of St. John’s Lodge, was standing close by. Seeing the dilemma he got the altar Bible of nearby St. John’s Lodge. At the end of the oath Washington added the words, “So help me God” and kissed the bible – A tradition from our fraternity and one presidents have continued. Since then, George Washington’s Inaugural Bible has been used for the inaugurations of Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush. So as we celebrate our presidents, let’s celebrate our fraternity and its influence on our men, our government, and our country.