Brethren and friends,
Thank you for being here tonight to celebrate this special occasion with us. To the wives and partners of the brothers who were installed this evening, make sure to give them a big hug as you probably won’t see them for the next several months. Really though, I want to thank you as their friend and brother, thank you for the nights you allow them to take away from y’all to spend with us. Brothers, thank you for your dedication to our fraternity and this lodge in particular.
Many of you are excited to follow up on ideas and work that has been laid before us. I would like to remind us of two things:
First, we should continue to build on the work of those before us. In Masonry, we often hear the phrase, “My year,” meaning the year a brother sits in the East as Master belongs to him. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Indeed, if it were true, you could all stand up and leave the room. It would be my duty to then carry out every single effort and plan on my own with no assistance from anyone. You may then show up next year at this same time on the second Wednesday of December and we could install the next chump in this very same seat! “My year,” indeed.
The year belongs to you; in the seat, you are in, work hard and leave the role of that seat better and more fulfilled than it was before you took its responsibilities upon yourself. Let us build on the efforts of the brothers before us.
Second, while preparing for our Misadventures in Iraq, the Army decided we should be able to jump out of helicopters in order to be better prepared. To qualify to attend this course we first had to pass a grueling half-day program of being smoked (or caused to do physical exertions until you may die) Ruck, 12 miles in 3 hours, and defeat an intimidating obstacle course to weed out the weak. As a staff sergeant, it was my duty to make sure all of my soldiers passed with me. If one failed, it was the same as if I had failed, because I would have failed in my duties of preparing them, motivating them, and seeing them through the course. Often, I dealt with the mental side of getting my soldiers to go past where they thought they could perform. On the ruck march, my best physically fit soldier, who was a half a mile ahead of me, rolled his ankle and fell over. I caught up to him at the three-mile point with nine miles left to go. Worried, I dropped my pace and stayed with him. At mile six, I realized that we would fail at the current pace so I grabbed him by his shirt and told him in no uncertain terms and with words inappropriate for this audience that he would move faster. Finally, we hit the home stretch and at the nine-mile marker, we were close to a passing pace. Again, I used my somewhat questionable yet motivating language to encourage him. We ran the last full 3 miles with all of our gear, him crying and me laughing maniacally as we went. I promise he was laughing behind the tears.
We made the time, with two minutes to spare. He collapsed and I called for the medic. We stripped his foot out of his boot and gave him water and Ibuprofen, the army’s cure-all. My soldier and I were laughing until I saw the medic looking at me. The medic informed me he needed to go to the hospital immediately. My soldier broke his foot clean through at the ankle, and I convinced him to go for nine miles after he should have stopped. Luckily he healed over time and no permanent damage was done. It could have been so much worse.
I tell this story for many reasons. One, brothers, as officers in the Lodge, you hold a mantle of leadership and other brothers will look up to you even though you may not be aware of it. Be careful with what you do. Second, apparently I am a little crazy, so if you find that your ankle is broken, don’t run the last 3 miles with me. There are other brothers that can help carry the load. Please don’t misunderstand, push yourself, work hard, improve in our tenants, but do not feel like you have to do this all on your own. As a Lodge we are brothers. Brothers that look out for each other and help each other where and when we can.
My brothers, I truly look forward to working with you this year to continue to build our Lodge.