Saturday was a great day for Freemasonry in Indiana. An estimated 250 Masons marched from the Murat Shrine to Freemasons' Hall down North Street. We were led by the Knights Templar color guard and the Grand Lodge officers, followed by Blue Lodge Masons from across the state, members and officers from the appendant bodies and youth groups, and ending with the Murat Shrine band.
(I will add that my only "uh-oh" moment of the day was driving past Massachusetts Avenue and seeing a large crowd coincidentally heading downtown for Gay Pride Day, led by a gentleman wearing nothing but a Speedo and carrying a large, inflated banana. I was a little concerned that the image of 250 guys marching down the street wearing aprons might be misconstrued as either mocking by some or unduly supportive by others.)
Another hundred or more Masons, family and friends made their way into the auditorium, which could have been a whole lot hotter if it hadn't been in the 60s last night. Those who entered through the west doors filed past our new security desk, constructed by PGM Richard Elman, and our just-delivered computerized information kiosk, partially paid for by a generous grant from the Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis. Entertaining the growing crowd was Grand Organist James McNabney. The stage was quickly crowded with Grand Lodge officers, Past Grand Masters and the Temple Board members. After introductions by Wbro. Dillman, Temple Board president, Jim read the proclamations by Governor Mitch Daniels, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, and Indianapolis City Councilman Ed Colman declaring June 6-13th as Freemason Week.
Keynote speaker U.S. Congressman Dan Burton, member of Evergreen-Oriental Lodge No. 500, who represents Indiana's 5th Congressional District, was introduced by former Army buddy, Grand Secretary Max Carpenter, and spoke on the long association between Freemasonry in the U.S. and patriotism, reminding the audience of the Masonic membership of many of the founders of our nation and 15 presidents. He recalled the laying of the cornerstone of the US Capitol on September 21st, 1793 by George Washington, surrounded by Freemasons, and dressed in his Masonic regalia, performing much the same ceremony as today's. Following his remarks, Brother Burton was presented with the Caleb B. Smith Award, the highest award that can be given by the Grand Lodge of Indiana for service to the fraternity.
Grand Master Charles F. Marlowe presented a beautiful plaque to Freemasons' Hall, to commemorate the occasion. Handmade from acacia wood, and inscribed in marble and brass, this stunning memorial marks the 100th anniversary of the building in the most beautiful manner possible. It will be hung in the south hallway once we can find a secure way to keep its hefty weight from pulling the plaster off the wall!
Grand Master Marlowe's remarks were brief, but challenged us to keep improving the building, and encouraged ALL brethren in Indiana to remember what a profound effect our fraternal edifices have on our newest members, as well as the communities in which we reside. He also took the opportunity to ask Indiana masons to reach the goal of 2,500 new Masons this year. Upon ending his remarks, he presented Jim Dillman with the hand-made gavel used at Grand Lodge this past May, and a check that will go towards an etched logo for the front of the new security desk - money raised by brethren in northern Indiana.
The rededication ceremony by the Grand Lodge officers followed, with the traditional trying of the building using the ancient tools of Masonry, and re-consecrating it with corn, wine and oil.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, refreshments were served, and guests filled the building to socialize and to tour its many rooms. Brother McNabney entertained a group in the third floor south lodge room playing its 100 year old pipe organ. Careful explorers found the beginnings of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum just beginning to take shape on the 5th floor. Assisting in serving up cake and punch were the young men of the Indianapolis Demolay Chapter that has just moved into the building in the last year. Every day seems to bring new activity, groups or events. The building is more alive than it has been in decades.
Many, many thanks to everyone who helped to make this a very special occasion for Indiana Freemasonry. Grand Master Marlowe said during his remarks that we cannot live the history of the past, but we can make history today. History was indeed made today in Indianapolis, and the Freemasons from every corner of the state of Indiana have much to be proud of. Freemasons' Hall is the headquarters of our fraternity. It is not just an Indianapolis temple building—every Indiana Mason is a partial owner of this magnificent temple. The Grand Master has given his permission for lodges from anywhere in Indiana to come and perform degrees in its four lodge rooms.
I left the building about 5:00 or so, and Wbro. Jim Dillman was snoring soundly in his office chair, the last guy in the place. He earned it. He had a busy day.