It was another early Saturday morning on the road and this trip I have been looking forward to for months. With the final appeals to the brethren to join us in Elizabethtown we convened just after 10:00am and gathered on the lawn waiting for the dedication of the eternal flame to begin. This monument, dedicated to all those brothers who have served in the armed forces, was the focus of the morning so it was only fitting that the first brother from our lodge we met at the event was a World War II veteran, a machine gunner in Patton’s 3rd Army, who actually became a mason the same day that I did just over a year and a half ago.
Just behind our brother, the Grand Lodge officers were preparing for the precession.
And waiting for the program to begin was the largest crowd, filled with veterans from all branched and various decades, which I have ever seen at Elizabethtown.
Without a doubt, our lodge was well represented as two of the brothers from my lodge, both veterans and members of the Sojourners, recited “A Toast To The Flag”. I have hear both of them recite this poem before and this might have been their best performance to date. Certainly no better and more poignant venue.
Branch by branch, war by war, each veteran was acknowledged in a way apropos to the tone of the morning.
With the dedication nearly complete we all took a few moments and turned our eyes to the sky as a B25 flew low and slow over the crowd.
As the event concluded and the crowd converged on the monument to bravery, Governor Corbett made a point to personally speak with the oldest veteran present this morning who was also recognized earlier when he received a valor blanket.
We slowly made our way to the flame to both take a closer look, find friends, family, and brothers and also to take a moment for ourselves to think about those in our lives that have made the monument possible. All gave some, some gave all. It was during these moments when I was fortunate to capture an image of three of the brothers in my lodge at the flame dedicated to their service.
However, the image that will stay with me from today was an unguarded moment of my brother reading the plaque at the base of the flame. This after taking some time shuffling around the monument looking for small pieces that represent those from our lodge. A veteran of World War II who served on the USS Missouri, I can’t imagine what must have been going through his mind.
Having said farewell to our brothers, we made our way to the Autumn Days Festival just a short walk from the dedication. Of course, with most people arriving at the festival around noon, the food was the first thing that we came across.
In the middle of the festival, in the courtyard, the crowd convened on the lawn to enjoy the shade and entertainment.
After walking around for a couple of hours, we turned around and began making our way back to the car. We were not the only ones who were running out of steam as all the quiet spaces along the sides had at least a few people stopping for a moment to rest.
Just before we walked across the field and got back in the car, I couldn’t help but take one final picture of the Eternal Flame off in the distance. While the dedication only lasted an hour, the monument remains and the sacrifices represented can never be measured by time. These are the moments that make me particularly proud to be a Mason and I will never forget this morning. I look forward to sharing moments like this with my growing family.
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