This special issue of the Scottish Rite Journal is
dedicated to the theme of Masonic heroes and reminds us that we, too, can
accomplish significant deeds for ourselves and for others.
lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime;
And, in parting, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.”
Few lines in all poetry are better known than these. They encapsulate a great truth, for the lives of great men do remind us of what is possible. They remind us that we, too, can accomplish important, significant things.
We don’t always recognize heroes when we see them. The great military leader, the renowned champion of human rights, the outstanding artist—each is easy to spot. But also consider the Masonic heroes more easily overlooked.
There is the Brother who, for thirty years, has been the first one at the Lodge or Temple, making sure it is warm enough in winter and cool enough in summer, making a pot of coffee—just making sure that everything runs comfortably and conveniently for others. He leaves footprints.
There is the Mason who is always there when work is to be done. He may not attend Masonic meetings regularly, but he is there when the Lodge or Temple needs to be painted, or when a Brother needs a lift to the hospital, or when a dinner needs to be cooked. He leaves footprints.
There is the Mason who, month after month, dons the greasepaint of a Shrine clown and gives his time to bring a smile to the face of a suffering, frightened child in a hospital. He leaves footprints, as large as his clown’s shoes, on the sands of many lives.
There is the Brother who learns the Ritual and, evening after evening, instructs the young Masons of his Lodge. They learn from him, not just the words of the lectures but about Masonry itself. He inspires by example and makes the meanings of the Ritual, whether of the Blue Lodge or the Scottish Rite, come alive. He leaves footprints—not just his own, but those of the Brothers who walk with him.
There is the Brother who gives hours of his time, week after week, to the Masonic Youth Orders. He accepts the terrific responsibility of youth leadership, the Saturdays spent making trips to state meetings and events—with a car full of kids in their early teens—when he could be at home watching a game on television. He leaves footprints on the sands of the future.
There is the Brother who quietly visits every member of his Lodge or Temple when they are hospitalized and who remembers to call the widows of Brethren regularly, just to check on them. He leaves footprints which often point the way out of despair.
These men do not think of themselves as heroes—they would scoff at the idea. Heroism is for other people, they would say, for people who do important, risky things, who face danger and overcome impossible odds. Yes, heroes do those things.
But the other Brothers are heroes, too. Heroes also fight the small battles which make all the difference. Heroes work.
Almost every active Mason is a hero to someone. You may never know the person who regards you as a hero. He probably will never tell you. But some- thing you have done or stood for touches him. That makes all the difference.
It is awesome to discover that we are someone’s Masonic hero—that someone looks up to us and respects us for what we know or do in Masonry. We may not think of our actions as important. To most of us, it is merely a matter of doing what needs to be done. Then, suddenly, we find that someone thinks what we do or how we act is important and looks up to us. The responsibility of that can crash over us like a tidal wave.
But even a tidal wave cannot wash out those footprints on the sands of time. What we do makes a difference—a difference we will never know. Every action we take, or fail to take, has consequences which run like ripples into the future. Heroes? What of the man who introduced George Washington to Masonry? What of the man who first interested the young Brother Fleming (who discovered penicillin) in biology? What of the man who inspired Brother Borglum to sculpt Mt. Rushmore? We never know the consequences of what we do.
This issue of the Scottish Rite Journal celebrates heroes. In doing so, it celebrates all of us. Let their examples remind us that we can make our lives sublime. We can see their footprints in the sands of time—we do not know who will see ours.
It is always a pleasure to welcome visitors to the House of the Temple, 1733 Sixteenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009-3103. Located on Sixteenth Street between R and S Streets, seven blocks NE of the Dupont Circle Metro stop, Red Line, the Temple is open to Brothers, guests, and the general public for tours from 8 am to 2 pm on weekdays. The Temple is also open on weekends and holidays for groups of 25 or more provided special arrangements are made in advance with the Grand Executive Director's office (202)232-3579. Visitors are requested to register at the door.