Vol. XX No. 7 — July 1942

“Stars of Glory”

When Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air
She tore the azure robe of night
And set the stars of glory there!
— Joseph Rodman Drake

Never before have we, as Americans, celebrating our most patriotic anniversary, had such an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the principles of our common country as is presented on this Fourth of July 1942.

For never before — not even in the dark days of the War for Independence — has danger threatened this nation as now the totalitarian powers menace every standard and well-beloved liberty of America.

With the idea that lodges meeting on or near this sacred day may wish to reconsecrate their members to the vital duties of Masonic citizenship, these pages have been written as a reminder of the Masonic teachings of patriotism and Americanism.

⁎  ⁎  ⁎

In the charge to an Entered Apprentice as given in most jurisdictions are these or similar words:

In the state you are to be a quiet and peaceful citizen, true to your government and just to your country. You are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live.

“A quiet and peaceful citizen.”

None may read into this phrase an admonition not to be a soldier, not to fight, not to go to war, without completely misunderstanding the spirit in which it was written. The phrase does not state that the Mason is not to fight his country’s battles. It does state that as a citizen he is to be “quiet and peaceful.”

The admonition has double need and double power in time of war. He is neither quiet nor peaceful who raises his voice in destructive and unhappy criticism. It is good American doctrine that the citizen may criticize his government constructively, and try to better that which is not good. But no help is given a country at war by destructive criticism, unnecessary agitation, needless strikes or lockouts. The “quiet and peaceful” citizen in time of war accepts cheerfully the hardships inescapable in war; is diligent about his duties; is silent under the lash of greatly increased prices and taxes when these are a necessity of our beloved nation.

“True to your government.”

The right to bear arms is sacredly inalienable to Americans. The need to bear arms now comes to millions of American homes and families, whose bravest and best go forth to war at the call of the nation. Few indeed are the young men called by the draft who go other than gladly. If the profane can give up home, business, wife, sweetheart, pleasure and income and go blithely forth, first to camp and training area, then overseas to meet whatever Fate has in store, how much more willingly should the Mason respond, because of the teachings of loyalty and patriotism inherent in the Fraternity. To give with a smile, to pay with a laugh, to fight with grim determination, to die, if need be, that government of the people, for the people, by tire people, perish not from the earth — is what “true to your government” may mean to us all.

“Just to your country.”

A great man once said, “My country; may she ever be right, but — my country, right or wrong.”

Some believe that war, under any circumstances, is no remedy for any evil. For those whose make-up of mind and conscience so differs from that of most of us, Masons will have that charity of thought which Freemasonry teaches. A man cannot help his inner convictions; the conscientious objector, the peace-at-any-price mind, the appeasement follower, are, doubtless, as honest in their convictions as are the great majority of Americans in their belief that war in a righteous cause is right. It is not the conscientious objector who is not “just to his country” but the iconoclastic critic; the man who tears down without building better; the voice which decries what is being done without suggesting how it might be better done.

Sabotage is not always accomplished by fire, explosive, material destruction. There is sabotage of spirit, sabotage of belief, sabotage of enthusiasm — and he who is guilty of these is not “just to his country.”

“Not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion.”

There is little need to dwell on this, for no American, whether Mason or profane, willingly does either. But, alas, some of us may without thinking be unwittingly disloyal. If we tell what we may have heard about military or ship movements; if we say “I have it on good authority that” followed by some secret of a military nature, we are in fact disloyal, even though our hearts are innocent.

Enemies’ ears are everywhere. The fifth columnist is among us, secret, quiet, unobtrusive. It is our business as good citizens — it is our duty as good Masons — to give him no information, no comfort, no aid. The surest way to prevent ourselves from being even unintentionally disloyal is not to talk in public of what we have heard, read, seen, thought, imagined, believed, hoped about the war. Thus shall we “not countenance disloyalty.”

“Patiently submit to legal authority.”

Of course we all have to submit. That is what America stands for; a government of laws, not of men And if men obey not the laws they have made, they have no government but anarchy.

But especially in time of war are we to submit patiently.

Is our income tax heavy? Be patient. Would we trade places with the Pole, the Norwegian, the Dane? Let us be patient.

Are our tires gone and must be walk? Be patient. Would we rather ride in Berlin than walk in America? Would we prefer to go awheel in Occupied France or crawl on hands and knees in the United States? Let us be patient.

Are our liberties restricted? Must we blackout when we want to go to a movie, eat sugar from a ration card, do without a new refrigerator or toaster, be unable to buy a typewriter or a new car? Be patient. We may still worship God in the church of our choice, still go to lodge, still hear a plane overhead without fear in our hearts, still have our homes as our castles in which no Gestapo may enter without legal warrant. Let us be patient.

Is our business ruined, our life work in wreckage about us, our security vanished because of priorities or government competition or any need of the war? Be patient. There are those abroad who Eve half naked in concentration camps, starving to death when they are not beaten to death. We are still free, still men, still citizens, still Masons — and we can still talk to God in public. Let us be patient. . . .

“Conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live.”

Aye, conform with cheerfulness. What does the word mean? “Filled with cheer!” What is “cheer”? Hope, and happiness in the hope; knowledge of the rightness of things to come, and joy in the knowledge; certainty of victory and, at long last, justice for all and contentment in the certainty.

English men and women have learned to be cheerful under a rain of bombs, death, fire, destruction. The patient Chinese can and do grin at Fate and work and fight the harder as the sacrifice demanded becomes greater. How much more should we, Freemasons in free America, be cheerful in conforming to every demand and sacrifice required for winning the war! Do we not hope? Do we not believe in the better world to arise when the war is over? Are we not certain of victory?

It would be stretching a point to contend that the unknown author of the ritual of the Four Cardinal Virtues had a nation at war in mind, but surely the beloved old words of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice fit our present situation as if made for them.

Today is essentially one for the practice of temperance of thought, judgment, and action. War is an arous- er of passions; not only evil passions but a passion for good, a passion for patriotism, a passion for victory. Unbridled passion for good may work its own harm, scarcely less than an unbridled passion for evil. Carried to extremes, too great a passion for patriotism ends in “witch hunts” and fanaticism; too great a passion for victory may defeat its own ends by destroying the very liberties for which we fight. Here Masonic Temperance can help greatly. If memory of the admonitions causes us to make sure in judgment; to wait and make certain before we denounce our neighbor; to delay and think it through before we demand unwise if well-intentioned legislation, Masonry will again have played a large part in our civilization.

“Fortitude is that noble and steady purpose of mind whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril or danger—”

Londoners have fortitude. Soldiers in the field have fortitude. MacArthur’s men on Bataan had fortitude. And we who stand behind the lines must have fortitude. “Any pain, peril or danger” means what it says; bombs, fires, wounds, death; taxes, savings, giving up, doing without; rationing, priorities, freezings, denials; civic service for civilian defense, walking to save rubber, no desserts at dinner, old clothes instead of new, inconvenience of blackout practice, the draft, conscription of man power for labor if needed. Americans take this on the chin and like it; Masons take it on the chin and like it and grin to show the world that the Masonic conception of fortitude means what it says and that we practice what we preach!

“Prudence . . . that habit by which we wisely judge and prudentially determine . . . it should be particularly attended to, in all strange and mixed companies, never to let fall the least sign, token or word whereby the secrets of — (and here we paraphrase and interpolate) our country! — might be unlawfully obtained.”

Rumor is dangerous. If we spread them, we hurt, not help. From whence came the rumors following Pearl Harbor, that the Pacific Fleet was totally destroyed? It spread so fast and so far that the President broadcast to the nation and therefore the world, to give facts and figures of the destruction wrought by the cowardly attack. The rumor did not spread by supernatural power; some Nazi agent whispered it to a man who whispered it to a man who whispered it to a man — and all of us, more or less, whispered it to all of us, less or more!

Many will be the rumors. “We cannot lick the submarines. They are sinking ships faster than we can build them.” “Our ammunition has too many duds, because of sabotage in shell factories!” “The army and navy air corps are not pulling together.” “Our coast protection is a joke — wait until the Axis gets ready to bomb!” — and so on and so on. Every such rumor spread by repetition is a weapon placed in Axis hands. Every time we say “they say things are not going so well” we hurt our nation, and forget the cardinal principle of Prudence. If every Mason buttons his lips and refuses to listen to tongues which perpetually wag pessimism, Masonic Prudence will be of importance in winning the war and make V for Victory a fact!

It will occur to many that a passage in the explanation of one of the emblems of the master’s degree bears heavily on this matter. The Book of Constitution, Guarded by the Tiler’s Sword reminds Freemasons “to be ever watchful and guarded in words and actions, particularly before the enemies of Freemasonry, ever bearing in remembrance those truly Masonic virtues, silence and circumspection.”

As the enemies of our country are enemies of Freemasonry it is not necessary to substitute “country” for “Masonry” in the admonition to make it apply in these days of enemies’ ears being everywhere.

“Justice is that standard or boundary of right which enables us to render to every man his just due without distinction.”

To every man, with no exceptions! It means what it says. Is he accused of being a “fifth columnist”? That is a favorite Axis trick — Masons will wait until it is proved before they judge. Do we find much to criticize and little to praise in some phase of the several campaigns? Masons will remember that we are not, most of us, military men, and that what seems easy to us may be impossible or unwise from the military or naval standpoint. “Why don’t they take the whole navy over and blow Japan out of the water?” is as unjust as the Nazi statement “Americas Navy is afraid of Japan and prefers to skulk at home!”

All of us have some pet abominations in high places in the government. Some of us object to this Cabinet officer and some to that bureaucrat. Some of us find only harsh things to say of certain labor leaders and others loathe certain alphabetical agencies. It is human and natural to give tongue to it. But unless criticism can be constructive it can only do harm; the probabilities are that most if not all the officials of whom we complain are doing their level best according to their lights! Let us, if we must, agree that we could do their jobs much, Oh, very much better! But let us not forget that the cardinal virtue of Justice requires that we render it to every man — even those we dislike. Until we have all the facts let us recall the Masonic cardinal virtue of Justice and give it to others, as we hope and expect others to give it to us.

It is only by the three principal rounds of Jacob’s Ladder that we can win this war; faith in our country, hope for our fighters, charity of judgment for those who lead.

America’s birthday sees the Stars and Stripes waving over the strongest nation in the world. It is the most beautiful flag in the world. To Mason, profane, Jew, Gentile, Protestant, Catholic it is their right to worship as they will. America proposes to keep it flying. Masons will do more than their share to see that it flies stain-free and untorn.

On this, the day of all days when the flag is honored, well may we pray on bended knee that we, Americans all, Masons heeding our Masonic teachings, value our flag by our actions as well as by our songs.

Let us then, solemnly, humbly, proudly, kneel & pray:

Almighty God:

Thy children humbly petition thee to grant us the gift of understanding all that this, the symbol of the land thou hast looked upon with so much divine favor, should mean to us whose heritage it is.

The Masonic Service Association of North America