Vol. XXIV No. 3 — March 1946

For Servicemen and Veterans

This Bulletin is condensed from the Annual Report of the Executive Commission, made to The Masonic Service Association at its Annual Meeting, February 19, 1946, in Washington, D.C.

“The one thing supremely worth having is the opportunity coupled with the capacity to do a thing worthily and well — the doing of which, in its vital importance, touches mankind.”
— Theodore Roosevelt.

Masonry has had, and now has, the opportunity “to do a thing worthily and well.” That welfare work for the Armed Forces is of “vital importance” is the belief of all who have supported and encouraged this work.

Never before in this or any other country has Freemasonry undertaken relief on any such scale as has been accomplished during the past five years. More than two million dollars for welfare work has been given through The Masonic Service Association for war welfare work by the generosity of the brethren.

Outstanding accomplishments in welfare work this year are the European Masonic Committee, ten additions to Hospital Visitation Centers, and establishing the Masonic Service Center in Paris, France.

The committee on European Freemasonry consisted of M.W. Ray V. Denslow, past grand master, Missouri, fraternal correspondent of that grand lodge, general grand high priest of the General Grand Chapter, R.A.M. of the United States, chairman; M.W. Charles H. Johnson, past grand master and grand secretary, New York; Past Grand Master Claude J. McAllister, Montana, fraternal correspondent and historian of that grand lodge; Past Master George E. Bushnell, justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan, chairman of the jurisprudence committee of that grand lodge, lieutenant grand commander of the A.A.S.R. Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

They were enabled to go through the interest and good offices of President of the United States Harry S. Truman, past grand master of Missouri.

The president outlined the conditions under which the committee could go; he would not authorize the sending of more than one brother from any one grand lodge; the committee must be representative of Masonry in the United States, and therefore should be one from The Masonic Service Association as most nearly representing all grand lodges; the committee must be geographically representative; the men selected should be of national Masonic reputation; no other committee for this purpose would be authorized.

The committee left by air on August 12 and returned by boat on September 29.

The report of this committee was published and distributed November 26, 1945, together with a letter asking contributions to the European Masonic Relief Fund.

At the close of the fiscal year of the Association (December 31, 1945) more than thirty-three thousand dollars was in hand, and thousands of dollars more have been promised. It appears that entire sum of $150,000 recommended by the committee eventually will be reached; the fund remains open for individuals or lodges which wish to contribute thereto.

New Hospital Visitation Services established in 1945 includes those at Biloxi, Mississippi, January; Asheville, North Carolina, February; Atlanta, Georgia, April; Augusta, Georgia, May; Fort Dix, New Jersey, July; Dublin Georgia, September; Clinton, Iowa, September; Richmond, Virginia, September; Camp Butner, North Carolina, October; Saint Paul, Minnesota, December.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, was reopened as both a Social and a Hospital Center in June 1945. Its new quarters are adjacent to England General Hospital, so that its principal clientele is composed of wounded ambulatory cases.

Grand masters and grand lodges will decide to what extent and how long they wish to support the Hospital Visitation Service, as that is expanded while the Social Centers close. Many wounded servicemen will be hospitalized for indefinite periods. Having set its hand to the plow of bringing Masonic aid and comfort to brethren, their sons and friends in hospitals, the Masonic Fraternity will not abandon such work while the need exists. If Congress enacts a compulsory military service law, young sons of brethren will need Masonic Service Centers and such Centers will be of great comfort to parents.

Whatever the future may mean as regards compulsory military training, the need in hospitals is great and should and will be met. Statistics of attendance at Centers are necessarily understatements. In spite of faithful attempts to use a hand-counter on all who enter, in large crowds some are necessarily missed, and not all Masons will register.

The figures which follow are smaller than those for 1944 due to many less men for a greater part of the year, and the slow but cure decline in attendance in almost all Centers due to demobilization.

Nevertheless, the figures are very impressive:

Attendance, all Centers 1,680,188
Masons registering, all Centers 205,278
Percentage of guests registering as Masons 12.217%
Contacts made in Posts 14,499
Patients visited 198,978
Home services 2,013
Families assisted 40,271
Contacts outside Posts 11,636

Masons visited from every state and the District of Columbia and from Alaska, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, British West Indies, Burma, Canada, Canal Zone, Chile, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, England, France, Guatemala, Hawaii, Ireland, New South Wales, New Zealand, Peru, Panama, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Syria and the Virgin Islands.

On April 8, the Paris, France, Center was opened and a full account of its physical property and aspects was published in the Supplement. Furnishings, supplies and personnel were obtained, loan of rooms in the Masonic Temple secured, a Field Agent engaged, the quarters furnished, and the cooperation of American Masons in Paris insured.

The Paris Center was host to thousands of Masons in the allied forces and headquarters of the Eiffel Tower Masonic Club of our own armed forces in France.

The London, England, Center did noble work up to the day of its closing, September 29, 1945. Letters from the grand master and the grand secretary of England (published in the Supplement) said appropriate and pleasant words of appreciation, and from many English lodges came enthusiastic comments from Britishers. These welcomed a constant stream of American Masons steered to their doors by the London Center and they are genuinely grateful for the opportunity to extend Masonic fellowship to American Masons. As for the Masons who visited the London Center, their praise and gratitude has been outstanding.

Immediately after V-J Day it was planned to close Centers as soon as attendance fell off. Closed in 1945 were: Burlington, Vermont, January; London, England, September; Farragut, Idaho, November; Hartford, Connecticut; Macon, Georgia; Mt. Clemens, Michigan; Trenton, Michigan; Jackson, Mississippi; Rapid City, South Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin, all in December 1945. Since January Sioux Falls, S.D.; Evansville, Ind.; Providence, R.I., and Petersburg, Va., have been closed.

St. Paul, Minnesota, and Norfolk, Virginia, were also closed as Social Centers, but continue as Hospital Centers.

No Center is closed without laying the conditions before the grand master and receiving his permission to cease operations.

Early in 1945 the Association corresponded with Acting Grand Master Michael Goldenberg of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines and his relief chairman, Past Grand Master Christian W. Rosenstock, as to the possibility of establishing a Masonic Service Center in Manila. We received permission from one and approbation from both these brethren. General and Brother Douglas MacArthur wrote an encouraging letter welcoming the project, but it soon became obvious that if a Center was to be established at all, it could successfully be done only by a trained representative who could plan the work on the spot. With General MacArthur’s letter as guide this seemed possible but permission to send a representative could not be obtained, nor could transportation be arranged. The request was taken to the highest possible authorities, but made no headway.

Then came V-J Day, and as a result a withdrawal of most of the men from Manila. Reluctantly the Association decided to abandon the effort.

The reasons for this decision were several: (1) The withdrawal of many troops from Manila following V-J Day; (2) A letter from Ill. Brother Frederick Stevens, deputy for the Scottish Rite, in which he stated that unless the Association was prepared to spend a very large sum of money the Temple could not be satisfactory repaired or a center established and conducted which would be a credit to the Fraternity; (3) Lack of cooperation from military authorities; in spite of the original letter from General MacArthur stating that such a center would be welcomed, some high military influence stepped into the picture and made it impossible to send a representative to establish and conduct such a center; (4) A statement made by Most Worshipful Brother Harry S. Truman, past grand master of Missouri, President of the United States, that it would be inadvisable for a considerable period to attempt to get permission either to send a representative or to ship materials to the Philippines for the purpose of establishing a center.

Thus nearly a year of effort, correspondence, wireless, and hard work ended in disappointment. Everything that ingenuity could suggest, diplomacy advise, or friends assist in doing was tried. The whole matter resolved itself into (1) not funds enough to spend $100,000 (approximately a fifth of the years income) on any one center and (2) a blank wall in all attempts to send a representative who might successfully have established and conducted a center.

Early in the fall of 1945 many friends in the motion picture industry were interested in the production of a new sound picture, to deal entirely with hospital work. Your Son Is My Brother, the splendid sound picture made and given in 1943 by the patriotic and devoted Masons of the motion picture industry, did a great work. Shown in hundreds of lodges, meetings, banquets, and other Masonic gatherings it was of untold assistance in bringing our story home to the individual and producing the large sums of money which have been given to this work.

The new picture tells a heart-touching story of the return from the war of a soldier who has a difficult situation to meet; it is met through Masonic aid. The picture should be of the same value in winning support and contributions to the hospital work as its predecessor was to the center work.

Three important changes in the distinguished group of brethren in Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Senate, and House of Representatives who form the Association’s advisory committee occurred this year; M.W Brother Harry S. Truman, chairman while Senator and Vice President elect, graciously consented to continue as chairman after becoming President; Brother Harold H. Burton, appointed from the Senate to the Supreme Court, graciously consented to continue upon the committee, and Senator Leverett Saltonstall, of Massachusetts, graciously agreed to become a member.

Many members of the advisory committee, consulted during the year, courteously gave of their time and counsel in matters in which the government was concerned.

The Association’s Washington, D.C., headquarters gets many calls for information as to the whereabouts of a soldier or sailor; requests for information as to one sick or wounded; wires from anxious parents or wives to get a message to and from one not heard from for many weeks; appeals for personal contacts with those known to be in hospitals. Many other anxious inquiries are handled in large numbers in the Washington offices.

Some appeals receive only a regretful reply that what is asked is impossible, such as the request to have a man already on shipboard coming home, picked up at sea in a plane and hurried back to attend a funeral; pleas to have someone returned out of turn because of some home emergency; inquiries looking to have someone promoted, discharged, furloughed, relieved from discipline.

Wherever a request can be granted, headquarters acts swiftly; when the call is one which our relations with the Army and Navy do not permit, a full letter of explanation is written.

Distracted parents still write for information regarding a son killed, missing in action, a released but “lost” prisoner; wives still want help to get increased allotments from their husbands’ pay; a bride is in tears because her husband has gone AWOL and may be declared a deserter; new mothers need clothes for infants and have no money with which to buy; servicemen and women on long train journeys hope for reading matter; servicemen whose families are in trouble at home beg for help to pay the rent, arrange the mortgage, find the doctor, do something about the runaway child, and so on without end.

Through the resources of Masonry, grand lodges lodges, the Red Cross or other agencies, such help is given promptly. Time and again Masonry has done in a few hours by long distance telephone for distraught parents what others have failed to accomplish.

In so few pages it is impossible more than to mention a few highlights of Masonry’s service to servicemen and women and veterans. Suffice it to say that the grand lodges, the allied bodies of Freemasonry, the lodges, the brethren whose contributions have kept this work up for so long a time and at so great a tempo, have every right to feel proud of the fact that, in the great war and now in the difficult peace, the right hand of Masonic fellowship was and is not a mere empty grasp.

The Masonic Service Association of North America