Vol. XXX No. 3 — March 1952

“The Day of Visitation”

At the annual meeting of The Masonic Service Association of the United States, held on February 19, 1952, in the Statler Hotel, Washington, D.C., the Executive Commission, as is required by the Constitution of the Association, presented its annual report.

This document is in two parts, the first concerned wholly with the educational and relief work of the Association, the second reporting upon the Hospital Visitation program which has made so great a mark in fraternal annals and brought so many encomiums to Freemasonry from patients and hospital staffs alike.

Part II of the report commences: “In other years we have begun this part of our report with letters from patients, hospital managers, physicians, nurses, patients’ near relatives, all praising our service as badly needed and not given by any other organization or group. As many or more such letters came during 1951, but to save time we put before you only two, which speak for themselves.”

The first letter, on White House letterhead, dated December 31st, 1951, and addressed to Executive Secretary Claudy, reads as follows:

Dear Carl:

I have observed with increasing satisfaction through the years the expansion of welfare work by The Masonic Service Association in hospitals for members of the Armed Forces.

I have been greatly pleased also to learn that the activities of our Association are so highly esteemed by the military authorities and especially in hospitals conducted by the Veterans Administration.

Please tell the delegates and guests at the annual meeting shortly to be held that I know of the good work of the Service Association and trust that they will continue unwearied in their efforts to brighten the lives of the ill and wounded who have made such heroic sacrifices.

Fraternally yours,
Harry S. Truman.

The second letter is on the letterhead of the Office of Assistant Administrator, Veterans Administration, dated December 18th, 1951, and is addressed to Director of Welfare John D. Cunningham. It reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Cunningham: The coming Holiday Season again gives me the opportunity to express to you the gratitude of those of us in Central Office of the Veterans Administration who have had the privilege of working with you in planning for the Voluntary Service program.

The splendid leadership and guidance which you have continued to provide at the national level are major contributions toward bringing us closer to reaching the goals which we and you have set for ourselves in the VAVS plan.

With my thanks and expression of appreciation come my heartfelt wishes for the Yuletide Season and a Very Happy New Year.

Sincerely yours,
F. R. Kerr,
Assistant Administrator for Special Services.

During the past year the Association worked in the following hospitals:

Albuquerque, N.M
Veterans (Albuquerque)
Alexandria, La
Veterans (Alexandria)
Asheville, N. C.
Veterans (Oteen)
Veterans (Swannanoa)
Augusta, Ga
Oliver Annex (Augusta)
Veterans (Augusta)
U.S. Army Hospital (Camp Gordon)
Battle Creek, Mich
Percy Jones (Battle Creek)
Veterans (Fort Custer)
U.S. Army (Fort Custer)
Biloxi, Miss
Veterans (Biloxi)
Keesler Field (Biloxi)
Charleston, S.C.
U.S. Naval (Charleston)
U.S. Naval (Beaufort)
Cheyenne, Wyo.
Veterans (Cheyenne)
Warren Air Force Base (Cheyenne)
Columbia, S.C.
Veterans (Columbia)
Fort Jackson (Columbia)
Coral Gables, Fla.
Pratt Veterans (Coral Gables)
Des Moines, Iowa
Veterans (Des Moines)
Veterans (Knoxville)
Dublin, Ga.
Veterans (Dublin)
Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Veterans (Excelsior Springs)
Fargo, N.D
Veterans (Fargo)
Fayetteville, N.C.
Veterans (Fayetteville)
U.S. Army Hospital (Fort Bragg)
Marine Hospital (Camp Lejeune)
Fort Dix, N.J
U.S. Army Hospital (Fort Dix)
Hartford, Conn.
Veterans (Rocky Hill)
Veterans (Newington)
Helena, Mont.
Veterans (Fort Harrison)
Hines, Ill.
Veterans (Hines)
Hot Springs, S.D.
Veterans (Hot Springs)
Veterans (Fort Meade, Sturgis)
Indianapolis, Ind.
Veterans (Indianapolis)
Billings Veterans (Ft. Benj. Harrison)
Veterans (Marion)
Jackson, Miss.
Veterans (Jackson)
Jefferson Barracks, Mo.
Veterans (Jefferson Barracks)
Lake City, Fla.
Veterans (Lake City)
Lyons, N.J.
Veterans (Lyons)
New London, Conn.
Submarine Base (Groton)
Coast Guard Academy Dispensary (Groton)
State Hospital (Norwich)
Uncas-on-Thames (Norwich)
New Orleans, La.
Veterans (New Orleans)
Newport, R.I.
U. S. Naval (Newport)
Norfolk, Va.
Veterans (Kecoughtan)
Public Health (Norfolk)
U.S. Naval (Portsmouth)
Marine (Norfolk)
Perry Point, Md.
Veterans (Perry Point)
Providence, R.I.
Veterans (Providence)
Richmond, Va.
Veterans (Richmond)
Roanoke, Va.
Veterans (Roanoke)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Veterans (Salt Lake City)
Fort Douglas (Salt Lake City)
U.S. Naval Dispensary (Clearfield)
Sheridan, Wyo.
Veterans (Fort McKenzie)
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Veterans (Sioux Falls)
Springfield, Mo.
Veterans (Springfield)
St. Paul, Minn.
Veterans (Minneapolis)
Fort Snelling (St. Paul)
Naval Aviation School (St. Paul)
Togus, Maine
Veterans (Togus)
Tucson, Ariz.
Veterans (Tucson)
Washington, D.C.
Mt. Alto (Washington)
Walter Reed (Washington)
U.S. Naval (Bethesda, Md.)
Walter Reed Annex (Forest Glen, Md.)
St. Elizabeth’s (Washington)
Fort Belvoir (Accotink, Va.)
White River Jct., Vt.
Veterans (White River Junction)
Wilmington, Del.
Veterans (Wilmington)

In these hospitals veterans were served by the astonishing number of 1,522,178 contacts, of which 47,614 were new, the rest to patients previously helped. Brethren from every state in the union received assistance, gifts, contacts and/or service from the M.S.A. Hospital Visitors, as did veterans from Canada, Canal Zone, Cuba, England, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Nova Scotia, Okinawa, and South Wales.

These services cost, all told, $195,569.69. The Association received from grand lodges, the Shrine, the Northern Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, other Masonic bodies and individuals, a total of $183,356.50.

The difference between income and outgo was made up from funds in hand. The report then continues in a discussion of the future, stating that:

It has been demonstrated not once but many times that funds can be raised and without difficulty, if Grand Masters will make the effort, put the need before their constituent lodges and keep it before lodges during the year. We are so much encouraged by the larger response in 1951 than in 1950 that we believe neither closing nor curtailing the hospital program need be feared if we can impress all grand masters in the Association that all can do what some have shown can be done.

Masons are much the same the country over. Love of fathers for sons in the service is not a virtue of any one or of any ten grand lodges. Belief in the reality of Masonic “help, aid and assistance” is not a matter of geography. Government hospitals operate in most states - could we conduct a two-hour hospital tour for every grand master there would be no need to stress further that money for this work can be raised - for then every grand master would go to work and see that it was raised!

The Executive Commission has a mandate from this Association that it must conduct M.S.A. affairs without borrowing, or obligating any grand lodges for any sum beyond (1) the annual dues which each grand lodge pays and (2) what each grand lodge voluntarily contributes.

Here we repeat again with emphasis: dues of member grand lodges (in no case more than 3 cents per capita and for the larger grand lodges much less) have nothing whatever to do with the Hospital Service problem. Dues from grand lodges are used wholly for the general work of the M.S.A.; offices, office help, supplies, telephone, telegrams, mail, Short Talk Bulletins, Digests, Educational Program, etc., etc.”

The Hospital Program, like the Masonic Service Center Program of World War II, has been from the beginning and must continue to be supported entirely by funds donated by grand lodges, other Masonic bodies and individuals.

We have not extended hospital service in 1951. Several new VA hospitals have been opened and all invited us to participate in their welfare and rehabilitation program. We regret that limited funds compelled us to decline opportunities which other groups seek. “Especially do we regret not being able to answer the call from the Air Force, to establish a mobile unit service for the isolated posts of those who guard our coasts. But it has seemed to us that we should keep our hands upon the plough which is so successfully turning the furrow of brotherly love to grow help for the helpless, rather than to attempt to do too much with too little.

The strictest economy has been practiced; this year we did not supply the thousands of picture post cards of hospitals which were among our most demanded comforts by servicemen, nor did we purchase Christmas cards, nor playing cards, nor around-the-neck mirrors. Purchases of matches and of cigarettes were also curtailed.

It does not appear that we need enter a plea for the ill, the armless, the legless, the blinded, the faceless, the mental cases, not even when our own sons and brethren - so many so pitifully young! - come back dreadfully maimed from Korea. They and that voiceless agony make their own plea. They ask only the equivalent of one cigarette every week from each one of us - the price of one single cigarette per week from every Mason in the M.S.A. would give this work all that it needs.

But if we make no plea for those whose devotion to duty and whose sacrifices speak silently with a great shout, we can ask a question:

Isaiah wrote two sentences for the despairing:

What will ye do in the day of visitation and in the desolation which will come from far? To whom will ye flee for help? (Isaiah 10:3)

Was he writing also for servicemen and women who look for your Hospital Visitor and see him not because of the “desolation” of no funds?

Or will you, O great hearted leaders, go back to your grand lodges and ask them for the little sum which will mean so great a comfort and happiness to those who have given so inspiringly of their flesh and blood for our beloved nation?

The Masonic Service Association of North America