I hope you and your loved ones had a happy and healthy holiday season. I am honored that you have chosen to elect me Worshipful Master. I am looking forward to a great year, it is my sincere pleasure to serve Cincinnati Lodge in 2015.
While preparing a presentation on Masonic Brotherhood, I uncovered some amazing stories from the Civil War about what it means to be a Mason. Our heritage is rich with stories of selfless acts so unbelievable they would seem fiction to many outside our Craft who sadly have never encountered such sacrifice. In our country’s early history, Masons were found on both sides of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Even under the strains of war and the dividing battle lines, these Masons never forgot their oaths or obligations and never ceased to remain a brotherhood. One monument depicting this ideal that is well known is the Friend to Friend Monument in Gettysburg, PA. Reflecting on the monument and what it represents, I wonder how many tourists see it as just another statue. To us it is so much more. On the left side of the monument is inscribed:
Friend to Friend
Union General Winfield Scott Hancock and Confederate General Lewis Addison Armistead were personal friends and members of the Masonic Fraternity. Although they had fought and served side by side in the United States Army prior to the Civil War, Armistead refused to raise his sword against his fellow Southerners and joined the Confederate Army in 1861. Both Hancock and Armistead fought heroically in the previous 27 months of the war. They were destined to meet at Gettysburg. During Pickett’s Charge, Armistead led his men gallantly, penetrating Hancock’s line. Ironically, when Armistead was mortally wounded, Hancock was also wounded.
Depicted in this sculpture is Union Captain Henry Bingham, a Mason and staff assistant to General Hancock, himself wounded, rendering aid to the fallen Confederate General. Armistead is shown handing his watch and personal effects to be taken to his friend, Union General Hancock.
Hancock survived the war and died in 1886. Armistead died at Gettysburg July 5, 1863. Captain Bingham attained the rank of General and later served 32 years in the United States House of Representatives. He was known as the “Father of the House.”
Stories such as this show how strong our bonds of Brotherhood can be. This mystic tie that binds us has proven to be so strong throughout the ages, it remains unbroken, even during wartime examples such as this. I am continually inspired and amazed not just by stories I read about, but by the selfless acts of the many Masons I am fortunate to know and call my Brothers.
Sincerely & Fraternally,
John L. LoSapio, Jr.