President’s Message, September 2021

(Secretary-Treasurer’s note:  My fault for getting this posted late.  We just spent six weeks moving house.  Mea culpa.)

Of course the huge news in Freemasonry in the United States these days emanates from the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, which hosted its biannual session in Cleveland at the end of August.

The biggest announcement, of course, concerns the abrupt change in leadership. Masonic Society Member Peter J. Samiec, who has been with us since 2009, is the new Sovereign Grand Commander of the NMJ! (Bro. Samiec is a New York Mason, so although I’m not a Scottish Rite member, I’m proud to see one of us in the Big Chair.) Congratulations, Illustrious Sir! I don’t envy you, but, seriously, good luck!

Also, and this was reported two years ago in the pages of The Journal of the Masonic Society, Greg Knott, a Founding Member of the Masonic Society who has served on our Board for many years and currently is the Second Vice President, was coroneted a 33° Mason. Well deserved, Bro. Greg!

I’m sure there are other Masonic Society brethren who either received the Thirty-Third and Last Degree or who were elected to be coroneted in 2023, or who maybe were honored in other ways, but I failed to find the information among the social media platforms. Please, if you know of other names in the news, send me the info.

And, in other headlines, Masonic Society Fellow John Bridegroom has been tapped to fill the Grand Tyler station on the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA. Wonderful news! John has been with the Masonic Society since Day One way back in 2008. He serves on our Board of Directors and is the creative talent that designs The Journal, ensuring it remains the most attractive and accessible of all Masonic periodicals.

One of my favorite Grand Lodges in the Northeast (second only to my New York) is Pennsylvania, where it has been announced that Masonic Society Member Yasser Al-Khatib is the new District Deputy Grand Master of the Sixth District. If you know, or know of, Bro. Yasser, you probably are scratching your head pondering how he finds time for his many Masonic duties, but he always makes it work. Oh, he also is the Master of Pennsylvania Lodge of Research. I’m tired just from typing all that.

Speaking of Masonic research, I’m no longer vexed by the claims posted in social media about alleged Masonic facts and biographies. I’m inoculated. Immune. Bemused. Case in point:

Around July 21 every year, the anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon, there always are messages of Masonic pride because astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second to walk on the lunar surface, is a Freemason. Fair enough. We do like our famous Masons! The only version of events concerning Aldrin’s Master Mason Degree that I’ve heard in my twenty-four years in the Craft puts the future moon-walker inside Montclair Lodge 144, located in his hometown of Montclair, New Jersey. That’s how it’s written up in various books of history and trivia. Heck, many years ago, that night in 1956 was described to me personally by brethren of that lodge who had received the account as a sacred history of their (now defunct) beloved lodge.

So, around July 21, I see a post in social media in which a Brother Mason says Aldrin was raised in, and is a member of, a lodge in Colorado. Hmmph! I replied with the fact that Aldrin was raised at this Montclair Lodge in Jersey. He answered coolly with a repetition of what he believes is correct.

What’s a Masonic researcher to do? (To his credit, the Brother didn’t say “Educate yourself,” to which I only could have answered “I am literally shaking!”)

I follow Aldrin on a different social media platform, so I tweeted the question to him: “Bro. Aldrin, can you clarify a point of history that is confused? Did you receive the Third Degree of Freemasonry at Montclair Lodge 144 in your old hometown, or at Greenleaf Lodge 169 in Colorado? Both make the claim.”

I figured I’d have this wrapped up in about fifteen minutes, at which time I would savor my victory won on behalf of facts, logic, and reason. Aldrin still hasn’t answered. So much for the prestige of being President of the Masonic Society.

But I’ll tell you a secret: About twenty years ago, Bro. Gerald Reilly, over in the United Kingdom, one of my fellow seekers in the old Masonic Light Yahoo! Group, asked the assemblage if we knew where Aldrin was at labor. Having known that Montclair story, I answered him, explaining how that lodge is no longer extant, but that its successor lodge is accessible—and that I’d ask. I emailed the secretary about it, only to be surprised by his answer. I paraphrase: Bro. Aldrin didn’t pay his Montclair Lodge dues for many years, and the lodge carried him on the rolls for the whole time because, you know, he’s the second human to walk on the moon. But, after an inexcusable duration of never hearing from him, the lodge suspended him for non-payment of dues.

So, perhaps he parked his membership in Colorado, but was raised in New Jersey in a courtesy degree. Of course, if he was NPD’d by the New Jersey lodge, he forfeited his membership in Colorado, per Masonic custom. Oh well.

Now, on to that Charlie Watts-is-a-Mason nonsense.