George Washington Celebration
By Tom Hendrickson Cat #2
Senior Grand Warden Grand Lodge of Minnesota
On February 21, 2009 the Minnesota Masonic Historical Society and Museum helds its first annual George Washington Celebration. It was held at the majestic and historical Minnesota Masonic Home in Heritage Hall.
The social hour began with light refreshments ( including a spiced wine that was popular in G.W.’s time) and the viewing of a variety of portraits of Brother Washington. All of the portraits had been at one time hung in various lodges across the state. Some of them were over 100 years old.
A tour of the Masonic Museum was conducted by our Curator David Nystuem. The tour then went to the basement where the Charles Nelson Library, the storage areas for the collections, and our small work areas are held. I was personally excited to hold the first Minute book from Cataract Lodge. It is an over-sized leather bound volume approximately two inches thick. It was hard to believe that I was holding the 158 year old history of my lodge in my hands. As I gazed upon its pages, I noticed the ink-dipped pen strokes made by the Secretary. He must have written it by either candlelight or kerosene lamp. As I ran my fingers across the names of the presiding officers I could see the faces of Alfred Ames Worshipful Master, William Smith Senior Warden, Isaac Brown Junior Warden and Art Godfrey Treasure etc. The founders of my lodge were the founders of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, the founders of the territory of Minnesota and later the founders and settlers of the City of Minneapolis.
Before dinner we had the opportunity to mingle and socialize. I tried to get around some, but my duties as President of the Society slowed me a bit. I think I saw Conrad Jackson, Glenn Kiecker, Richard Kaufman, and Doug Campbell. If I forgot someone I apologize.
Our Honored Guest was Mark Tabbert, author of “American Freemasons – Three Centuries of Building Communities.” Mark is also the Curator of the George Washington Masonic Memorial, in Washington, DC.
We were very honored to have Mark with us. He flew in from Washington, DC, after a grueling schedule of public speaking engagements and special projects at work. Unfortunately, Mark had a case of the flu when he arrived to us. But nevertheless, his best energies were experienced. We are thankful for Mark’s dedication.
The main premise of the speech, was that following the tenets of Freemasonry brings true happiness. He brought our basic principles to light in this way, which was inspirational to me and many others. Many of us were still buzzing for days afterwards about the innovative qualities of the speech and also Mark’s personal interpretation of Freemasonry. For me personally, it was fun to learn about Mark’s career and his perspective of his life as an author and speaker.
Overall the night was an enjoyable experience. We had a sell-out crowd – and we even had to turn away a few. The dinner prepared by the caterers, of roast beef and turkey was delectable.
It was a good learning experience for us organizing this event. In our after action report, we are planning on making a few changes that will make next year’s event better yet!