Monday, September 26, 2011

How do you say thank you?

Over this past weekend I had the privilege and honor to participate in the Annual Gettysburg Memorial Service with the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania. Each year, usually in September, the Grand Commandery comes together to march up the hill that leads into the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. About mid way up the hill rests the Friend to Friend Monument, which was erected by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to commemorate the Masonic Brothers who fought on both sides during the American Civil War. It  is at this hallowed site, dedicated to Freemasons and soldiers, which is mere steps from where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg address, that the Grand Commandery remembers the Knights that have died during the past year. The service was very moving and provided great honor to those who have come before.

I know. I hear you. What does this have to do with DeMolay? C'mon guys, you know I always find a way to tie it back together!

As I stood guard for the service, I noticed that "Dad" John K. March, the Right Eminent Grand Commander of Pennsylvania (the State level president), was wearing a blue ribbon on his uniform. It looked very out of place, as Templar awards and medals generally are red, white, black, or purple. Blue is not a common color. Yet, there he was, wearing a blue ribbon. Upon further inspection, I realized that he was wearing a DeMolay Medal of Appreciation. That medal was presented to him by Bros. Matt Blaisdell (SMC) and Anthony Kallhoff (SJC) back in July at a testimonial dinner in his honor. As my eyes panned to the right, I spied "Dad" Kenneth J. Wyvill, Jr., the Right Eminent Grand Commander of Maryland. Lo and behold, he was wearing a similar jewel on his jacket! I was noticing a trend.

Pictured above (from Left to Right): Sir Knight and "Dad" John K. March (Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania), Sir Knight and "Dad" Seth Anthony (Division Commander, Division No. 5 of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania), Sir Knight and "Dad" Kenneth J. Wyvill, Jr. (Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Maryland)

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Templar organization, the uniform codes are very strict. They specify not only what medals and decorations you can wear on your uniform, but also what order they are to be displayed in. The code is very strict and adherence to it is an important part of the Templar tradition. To see two of the highest officers in their respective states wearing adornments that are not listed as official in the uniform code is very unusual. Uniform codes are usually left up to each state, so the Grand Commander can do anything he likes in regard to his uniform, but to see two Grand Commanders both wearing DeMolay medals on their uniforms at the same time was really special.

I spoke with "Dad" March after the service and asked to take some pictures with him and of his Medal of Appreciation. He said to me "I promised those young men that I would wear this medal for the entire year that I'm Grand Commander. They did me a great honor by presenting this (the Medal of Appreciation) to me and I'm going to return that favor by wearing it everywhere I go this year." When I asked "Dad" Wyvill about his Medal he said "The young men of Maryland DeMolay are our future. They gave me this Medal and in a couple of weeks I'm receiving the Legion of Honor. It means a lot to me."

The DeMolay Medal of Appreciation is one of the easiest awards to bestow, but that doesn't cheapen it! The only requirements include the following: it must be approved by a Chapter;  it can be given to anyone over the age of 20; it can be given to community leaders, Masons, and others who help the DeMolay program; and lastly, it must be approved by the Executive Officer.  It provides an excellent way to say "thanks" to those who make the DeMolay program successful.  And, as demonstrated above, the potential impact it can have is enormous.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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