With Memorial Day right around the corner and many veterans organizations and schools holding programs celebrating our veterans service to the United States, the next small event is one we hadn’t heard of before but was well worthwhile.

The Freemasons of Massachusetts and the 24th Masonic District for the past four years have put together a program to honor our local veterans and the widows of veterans of the area. They have been putting together a program and luncheon for our vets that is a first-class event which is especially relevant at this time of the year so close to Memorial Day.

The Chairman of this annual event Dean D. Moss from the Olive Branch Lodge of the Masons invited SpecialOperations.com to the event this year honoring the vets and widows which we were happy to oblige.

The Freemasons are one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world, with their first historical reference occurring around 1390. From their website, the unofficial motto of the order is “to make good men better;” therefore, any candidate must be basically a good man. Secondly, members must be able to state a belief in a Supreme Being. Without a strong belief in God, moral lessons would be valueless. Finally, candidates must come to the order of “their own free will and accord,” unfettered by undue solicitation or expectations of financial reward.

Some background on the Olive Branch Lodge, one of the oldest lodges in the country, it was given its charter in 1797 by Paul Revere, (yes, the same one of Revolutionary fame) in September of that year. It is rumored that the Lodge still holds a lock of Revere’s hair. They have been active in the communities of Millbury and Sutton ever since.

President William Howard Taft spent summers as a boy in the small bucolic town of Millbury at the home of his aunt. After he was elected President, he visited his aunt and the town on the day of his 55th birthday. He was made an honorary Lodge member and spent a night with the members where it was said he received a “tumultuous welcome.”

The 2018 program was hosted at the Masonic Overlook, a beautiful retirement community that sits up high on a hill overlooking a good chunk of Central Massachusetts.

Upon entering, we were escorted by the “Rainbow Girls”, young ladies from the community volunteering their time for the event. All of the women in attendance were handed a single red rose, including my better half.  We were then shown into a huge lounge area where there was wine, crackers, cheese, and fruit for everyone to sample and converse among themselves.

There looked to be about 125 people in attendance and moving about the room, we were interested in hearing everyone’s stories. From several of the older veterans and widows in attendance, they were surprised and pleased that a national military news service was interested in hearing their stories, which were interesting and informative. Many in their late 80s to early 90s can still rattle off dates, and locations like it were the day before. The funny thing was, most wanted to hear our stories rather than rehash their own.

After about 90 minutes or so, we were all once again escorted into a nicely decorated and well set up dining room where there was a tasty luncheon served. But before that, the colors were posted and it was nice to see the older generation didn’t need prompting to stand for the colors as even some in wheelchairs or walkers stood, perhaps not as erect as they once did, but one would hope the younger generation would take note.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and then a bugler played taps before the lunch was served. Nothing irks me more than going to a sporting event and seeing people not removing their hats for the National anthem or talking thru the entire thing. It is irritating that people can’t be still for less than two minutes today, but I digress…

As dessert was being served, Moss and the District Deputy Christopher StCyr spoke on the behalf of the Freemasons to the assembled crowd. They then personally spoke with everyone as they left the luncheon.

After the luncheon, we were once again escorted up two floors to the Overlook’s Performing Art Center for a band playing the hits from the World War II era. The music was well done and seemed to go over quite well. Just outside the concert hall were several display cases and members of the community who are either collectors or donated their personal collections.

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There were authentic Revolutionary War uniforms thru the War of 1812, Civil War, Buffalo soldiers Old West as well as Spanish American war uniforms as well. A piece of the USS Constitution and for you modern military fans, there was an outstanding flash collection of the different Special Forces and Ranger units in Vietnam including many of the Studies and Observation Group (SOG) commands.

As the concert was winding down, we spoke with Moss who has chaired this small, low-key but very nice veterans program for the past three years. “We try to put on a nice program for our veterans and the widows for the past four years and feel it is a worthwhile endeavor for us. We try to make our communities stronger and honoring the widows and veterans is just a way of us thanking them for that service.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Photos: author, SpecialOperations.com