This week’s contributor, Bro. Andrew Bridges, is fresh from the quarry, having been initiated in January 2015 at Claremont Masonic Lodge #436. He was born in Brownwood, TX in 1988 and in and around the area (Waco, Tyler, and Elgin) for most of his young life. He graduated from Elgin High School and is an eighth generation Texan on his mother’s side. He is very proud of such a distinction. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 2006, serving as a motor vehicle operator with the 1st Tank Battalion. He was deployed to Al-Qaim, Iraq in February 2009 and was honorably discharged in 2010. Since that time, he moved to California where he attended school at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA and currently lives in Rancho Cucamonga.
“I have been a member of Claremont Lodge #436 since January of 2015. I am currently a Fellow Craft, and I cannot wait to be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.” – Andrew B. Bridges, Semper Fidelis
As a new mason, one of the most important traits I see in Freemasonry is the brotherhood among masons. I served in the United States Marine Corps from 2006 through 2010 where that feeling of brotherhood is paramount. Since being discharged, the feeling of brotherhood is something I had been missing. This brings me to what I want to talk about today: a tradition that goes far back in our nation’s history.
In 1835, the Texas Revolution started. On both sides of the war, masons fought masons. Most notably, Brother General Sam Houston, Bro. Stephen F. Austin, many Brothers who gave their lives at the Alamo, and Bro. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
On April 21, 1836, the Texan army and volunteers defeated the Mexican army. Upon Santa Anna’s capture, he gave a Masonic sign to his captors. This sign undoubtedly saved his life even after being in a huge battle of kill or be killed. This is an example of Masonic brethren not forgetting their brotherhood and sparing the life of a mason who held totally different ideas and beliefs (read more here).
Skipping ahead to the American Civil War, we find battles of brother against brother and father against son.
Again, Masons on both sides were fighting for their beliefs. Shortly after the war was underway, Union soldiers had just occupied parts of the Georgia coast near the Savannah River. Among their ranks was a young Fellow Craft mason, who had proven his proficiency to his brothers, but not yet in a lodge room. So, a messenger riding under a white flag went in search of a lodge in a nearby town. He was told to go back and await an answer. After a few days, over a dozen Confederate soldiers rode under a white flag to the Union position to get this Fellow Craft Mason and several Master Masons.
After riding into town through miles of Confederate defenses, a lodge meeting was held and the Fellow Craft gave his proficiency in a regular lodge room and was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. Afterwards, all Union soldiers were again given safe passage back to their positions. “It clearly demonstrates that, at the darkest period in our Nation’s history, when brothers were killing brothers, Brothers could still be Brothers” (read more here).
There is also another account when a young Union naval officer died on his ship in the gulf. The captain knowing he was a Mason and knowing that this lieutenant’s father was a Mason and a colonel in the Confederate army, held off his burial at sea until he could send word to his father so he could attend (read more here). There are many accounts of this happening throughout the Civil War.
A few weeks ago, I brought this up before the lodge meeting had started. I told the brothers how I was overwhelmed by the compassion I have been shown in my lodge, as well as the brotherhood I have seen from the Pomona lodge officers at their annual chili cookoff. Having been in combat I can say that I would show the same kind of brotherhood as has been exemplified above if I am ever to be in the same situation, but God willing this will never happen in my lifetime or ever again.
Thank you Bro. Andrew Bridges for you contribution this week!
If you would like to be the next contributor, send me an email. I hope you will. S&F, J