4th of July Message

Dear Brethren and Friends, As I write this message sitting in my den with pipe in hand, my mind drifts toward the sounds and smells of summer wafting through the open window. Listening to the familiar drone of the chirping crickets, the barking of dogs, distant notes upon the breeze of a neighborhood carnival and the laughter of children playing; feeling the sticky warm air of the dog days of summer laced with the smell of local bar-b-ques, the grilling of hotdogs and the sweet fragrance of toasted marshmallows, saltwater taffy and delicious ice cream, I long for the season never to end. But alas the slower pace of summer gradually slips from our grasp as does this cherished opportunity to recharge our batteries and spend quality time with our families and friends. Reflecting upon the approach of Independence Day, I must say that this is truly my favorite season of the year. It is that special time when we gather together with family members, friends, neighbors and fellow brethren to celebrate the birth of our beloved Nation with Patriotic music and fireworks. It is indeed a time to give pause and acknowledgement for the many blessings that we as Americans have wrought from the courage and personal sacrifices freely given by our forefathers to secure the freedoms and liberty we enjoy today. Certainly it calls to mind the endearing passage from our Masonic teachings embedded within one of our Craft’s Lectures emulating the thrill of the soldier’s heart and his deeds of heroic valor and sublime devotion. Let me share with you an excerpt from the elder Pastor of Boston’s Harvard Street Baptist Church, the Rev. Joseph Banvard’s narrative of 1876 titled “Soldiers & Patriots of the American Revolution”. Upon the successful conclusion of the War “…George Washington took leave of his officers, and returned, clothed with honor, to his quiet retreat at Mount Vernon. This parting of Washington from the brave officers of his army, with whom he had suffered hardship, and shared the perils of many battle fields, presented a scene of peculiar tenderness and solemnity. It occurred at Fraunces’ Tavern, in the city of New York, on the 4th day of December 1783.” “About noon the officers of the army were assembled in one of the rooms of the hotel, and, whilst indulging in conversation with each other, the door opened and Washington entered. The feelings of his heart were too strong to be concealed. They betrayed in his saddened countenance, and eyes that swam with tears. According to the customs of the time, he poured out a glass of wine, and raising it he said: ‘With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you; I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.’ “Washington then raised his glass and drank. After which he said: ‘I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’ “As General Knox was the nearest to him, he turned and extended to Washington his hand. Washington was then unable to speak. He grasped the hand of his companion-in-arms, and then silently embraced him. It was a deeply touching scene. The other officers then followed, of whom he took leave in the same affectionate manner. There were no congratulations at the success of the war… no expressions of commendation… no goodbyes… Not a word was uttered, though all eyes were filled with tears, and every heart throbbed with deep emotion. Dignity, silence, and solemnity prevailed.” “This being over, George Washington left the room; passed through a corps of light infantry, and proceeded on foot to the Battery, at the southern extremity of the City. He was followed by all the officers, soldiers, and a large crowd of spectators. Having reached White Hall, Washington entered a barge, turned toward the assembled multitude, and raising his hat, he gracefully waved it, and bade them a silent adieu.” Fast forward to today, I cannot but realize the significant role that our beloved Masonic Fraternity played in the events leading up to our Nation’s Independence. This realization leaves me spellbound to know that you, my brothers, and I are so privileged to call ourselves Brother Masons. After all is said and done, “It’s Called Brotherhood!” In closing, I wish to part with the immortal words of one of Washington’s loyal Generals and Brothers, the Marquis de Lafayette, which is so very apropos today as it was two hundred years ago: ‘The happiness of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she is destined to become the safe and venerable asylum of virtue, of honesty, of tolerance and quality, and of peaceful liberty.’ God bless America, God bless our Veterans, and God bless our beloved Freemasonry! With kind fraternal love, M⸫W⸫ Steven Adam Rubin Grand Master