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From the West

By Andrew Hawes — Sr. Warden


March is a month of which has had several historic events. The U.S. Supreme court convened for the first time in March, 1790. The U.S. Peace Corps was founded in March, 1961. The song "Happy Birthday to you" was originally published in March of 1924. The first St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC was held in March, 1762. We celebrate St. Patrick's Day every year in our lodge in March, with a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage including, of course, potatoes... but interestingly, this "traditional Irish meal" isn't in fact traditionally Irish!


The Irish, as a people, didn't really eat beef, and it wasn't until after the great famine in 1845 and the massive influx of Irish immigrants into the US that the Jewish Corned Beef that we know and (I personally at least) love today started to become a staple of the Irish(-American) diet. Quickly thereafter it started to become associated with St. Patrick's Day celebrations, and, hence, March.


Abraham Lincoln chose corned beef and cabbage to be served at his inaugural luncheon - which was in March, 1861! Despite its popularity in the US, the corned beef, potato and cabbage meal has never managed to cross back across the Atlantic and become a standard in Ireland itself. Like many of our traditions here in the US, this one is home grown, built out of the pieces of tradition and common ground that our immigrant population found here when forging their new lives. ...and here we get to my masonic connection for this month - we are all immigrants into masonry.


Some of us are multi-generational immigrants- our fathers and/or grandfathers came first, before us - for others, we are first-generation immigrants, coming into a new lodge without any previous experience of what we were joining, and only the vaguest idea of what to expect. Perhaps we fled a moral famine in our lives, seeking spiritual nourishment, not unlike the Irish starving after the potato famine. We learn in Masonry, and we grow as men - but we also bring ourselves and our lives into the lodge, and make them a part of it. Like our country, our lodge is a “melting pot”, and we must learn to grow together, merging our culture and backgrounds to mint new traditions to pass on to our future.

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