I picked this tee shirt up over a year ago at Old Navy, but never wore it. I wasn't entitled.
It's a question of honor.
Today I can, even if the logo is a little off.
The 33rd degree on Tuesday in Chicago at the historic Merle Reskin Theatre was impressive and moving, and maybe the closest thing to a West Point moment I will ever experience. Congratulations to my 163 Illustrious classmates, and many, many thanks to everyone who made this day so special. Especially to Jeff Saunders, Jerry Collins and Pete Forest who made this doddering, sickly old man comfortable and made the traveling easy. Not sure I would have made it through the day without their kind help. The week was kind of touch and go, healthwise. And thanks to the unknown Russian gentleman in the elevator who tied my bow tie. It was a thousand little events and incidents and good wishes that made it so remarkable.
So many friends helped make it a great experience: Grand Master of Indiana Gregg Walbridge, Mike Sassman, Charles Compton, Linville Coner, Tim Hopewell, GM Bill Koon, Jonathan R. Elrod, Duane Vaught, David Goodwin, Chuck Wood, Ward Weber, J. Brian McNaughton, Mark Genung, DGM George Ingles, Jeff Zaring, Eric Seidensticker, Piers A. Vaughan (great to see you my friend after your own health issues!), Kent Hizer, Paul C. Page, Bob Elrod, Gail Kemp, Todd Creason, and everyone who I met for the first time in person from Facebook connections. I very much appreciated the help from Jerry Collins who was at my side for the entire degree event, specifically to assist me with anything I might possibly need. It was a very kind gesture to have him there to make the day go a little easier, and he has my longstanding gratitude.
And a special thanks to Sovereign Grand Commander William McNaughton, from whom I was privileged to receive my 33rd ring onstage. It was a day I'll never forget.
Finally, my apologies to anyone I've left out. It was a day of madness and confusion, and the memory skips on occasion. Alice, Wiley and I had a wonderful experience, and I will endeavor to live up to the honor.