This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from the script of the

Masonic Service Association motion picture film of the same title. It

was presented by the late Worshipful Brother John D. Cunningham,

former Executive Secretary of the Masonic Service Association. It is

particularly suited for

presentation to mixed audiences.


Ladies, why does your Mason so frequently leave the home you strive

to make comfortable and appealing, and journey down to a stuffy lodge

room to spend several hours consorting with other equally

unappreciative and far too mysterious males? What is this attraction

that draws men together to the exclusion of their families?


Several explanations can be found, but, reducing all of them to basic

essentials, we find this simple answer: Freemasonry has a universal

appeal to men of good faith, of good will, and of good conscience.


Nights out to attend Lodge and far too much secrecy often cause

misunderstanding in the home. But if you, my Brother Mason, will take

just a little more time to explain to your family why you go to Lodge

and what Freemasonry means to you, Mother and the kids, instead of

resenting your absence, will rejoice in the knowledge that the Mason

in their home is one of a brotherhood that for more generations than

any other society on the face of the earth, has attracted to its

sacred altar the greatest

humanitarians, the greatest leaders this world has ever known.


Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, a religious society. Its

only secrets are its method of recognition and a ridiculously small

part of its symbolic instruction. Every individual in this room

carries in his or her bosom harmless secrets scores of times in

excess of those imposed upon a Freemason. But a Mason's reluctance to

talk about his ideals is often misunderstood, especially at home. And

conversely, a long dissertation about the mysteries of Freemasonry,

its esoteric work, etc., would be so boring to his family that even

greater harm would result. But he will, I am sure,

captivate your interest if he tells you about its charities, if he

tells you of its glorious history; if

he tells you about some of his Lodge Brothers, Lodge Brothers of the

present, and Lodge

Brothers of long bygone days.


Mrs. Mason, do you know, and is that hero-worshiping youngster of

yours aware, that the Mason in your home could dispense with

formality and address fifteen former Presidents of the United States

as Brothers? The same privilege is his when he sits in Lodge with the

Chief Justice of the United States and with four of his Associate

Supreme Justices, or when he sits in Lodge with the majority of the

United States Senators, a large proportion of the United States

Representatives, and over half of

the Governors.l In England and in countries all over the earth,

Kings, Princes, and nobles of all

ranks would probably return your Mason's salutation, Brother.


It will be easy for that youngster of yours to visualize Great,

Great, Great Grandfather admitting Brother George Washington into his

Lodge, accompanied by Brothers John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin,

General Lafayette, Paul Revere, and the many of Washington's general

staff, along with many signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Oh, and let's not forget Brother Lord Charles Cornwallis who

surrendered to Brother Washington. He can picture Great, Great, Great

Grandpappy standing on the storm-tossed decks of a Man-of- War, side

by side with Brothers John Paul Jones or

Admiral Dewey, or striding the battlefields of Europe with Brothers

Frederick the Great, or

Napoleon, or exploring our great Northwest


FOOTNOTE [I] At the time this film was made, this was true. An up-to-

date listing of "Masons in Government" is published biennially by the

Masonic Service Association .


with Brothers Lewis and Clark, and blazing trails with Brothers Kit

Carson and Sam Houston. Ah, there is much of which that youngster can

boast in the history of his Dad's Lodge, if Dad will only take the

time to tell him.


Insist that he tell you of Masonry's interest in education because

that interest is not confined solely to memorizing ritual or learning

more about our Ancient Craft. Far from it. Ladies, you are probably

unaware, and I suspect that many of the men present are almost as

completely unaware, of the size of

Freemasonry's financial stake in educating and training the youth of

our land, in stocking our

reservoir of leadership, if you please.


For example, some years ago the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite

for the Southern Jurisdiction gave to George Washington University in

the District of Columbia, a million dollar endowment to establish a

department for the training of leadership in government service. This

endowment is augmented annually by additional contributions, and many

career diplomats are the product of this school. Several Grand Lodges

throughout the United States have established scholarships in their

local universities.


The Northern Jurisdiction, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, encourages

young people interested in journalism and in public relations by

making available to them scholarships in the Boston University School

of Journalism and Communication Arts. And then there is a fund of

approximately five million dollars administered by the Grand

Commanderies of Knights Templar to provide scholarship loans so

deserving students can complete their last two years of college.

Hundreds are assisted annually by the Knights Templar. And, oh, how I

hope that sometime, some group will make it easier for youngsters to

enter college. Quite often the beginners need the most encouragement.

The soundest investment we can make is an investment in the youth of

our land, for they are the leaders of the future. From their ranks

will come the statesmen, your educators, your politicians, your

ministers, your scientists; yes, and from their ranks will come the

future Presidents of this great country; and Freemasonry must make

quite sure that it provides a generous proportion of that leadership.

For if we fail, if we permit others to capture the minds and

loyalties of our young people, we have only

ourselves to blame. There can be no excuse.


The opportunity is there, and if you don't want to take advantage of

it, it is your fault. As the

proud grandfather of two splendid grandsons who unfortunately reside

in a community which

does not have a Chapter of DeMolay, I must confess an almost

uncontrollable impatience with my Brother Masons who either

stubbornly refuse, or just will not recognize the great potential for

good in this organization. Membership in this world-wide brotherhood

is denied my boys. The DeMolay door to opportunity is closed to them;

a door through which have passed many of the outstanding Masons

of today. DeMolay boys have become Grand Masters; many of them,

leaders of the Scottish Rite, leaders of the York Rite, leaders of

the Mystic Shrine of North America. We find members of the DeMolay in

every honorable avenue of life, in the arts, in the sciences, in the

clergy, in the armed forces, in commerce--you name it: those boys are

there; and I'm quite sure that the Order of Rainbow and the Job's

Daughters, girls' organizations, can equal or surpass the

accomplishments of the DeMolay.


Every Lodge everywhere has a history of raising sums of money for the

relief of a distressed Brother, his widow and orphans, and for other

purposes. For example, sometime ago it was announced in a little

Lodge with scarcely one hundred in attendance, that a Brother had

suffered a serious injury and needed help immediately. The Master had

a receptacle placed near the altar and when Lodge was

closed, the committee had the pleasure of taking nearly five hundred

dollars to their injured and much worried Brother. Think of it! Then

you multiply this one example by the more than 16,000 Lodges in the

United States, and you will have some idea of this one phase of

Masonic compassion. Yes, I said, compassion. I will not call that



More than thirty Grand Lodges in the United States maintain homes and

hospitals for the aged. These are not institutions. They are homes

and hospitals, second to none, where our elderly Brothers and their

families find a haven where they can spend their twilight years in

comfort, in peace, and in dignity.


But Masonic compassion really starts outside the tiled doors of the

Lodge. For example, sometime ago the University of Minnesota sought

the assistance of the Grand Lodge in building a million dollar

hospital for cancer research. They said that if the Grand Lodge could

possibly raise $500,000, they would endeavor to obtain the rest.

Freemasonry in Minnesota rose to the challenge. Within a

comparatively short time their goal of $500,000 was achieved, and

then the great heart of Minnesota Freemasonry really spoke, -- no

indeed, IT SHOUTED: "Let's build the entire hospital ourselves!" The

University of Minnesota now has its million dollar plus cancer

research hospital, and Freemasonry in that section of the country is

viewed in a different light by those who knew us not. And who knows

but that next year, next month, from that Temple of Mercy with the

Masonic name emblazoned over its entrance, may come the miracle for

which we all so earnestly pray: a cure for the dread disease, cancer.

Then there is a sequel to this story. The hospital will soon be more

than doubled in size and capacity and the Masons of Minnesota are

raising one and one-quarter million dollars to achieve that goal.

Doesn't it make you proud to be a Mason? Have you ever heard about

the Eye Foundation of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar? Look

up the statistics of this great fight to wipe out diseases of the eye

and blindness, for anyone in need of such treatment, regardless of

race or creed. How many of you know about the phenomenal

contributions made for the study and treatment of mental disease by

the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Jurisdiction? And then, of

course, every Scottish Rite body has an almoner who distributes funds

to needy cases which come to his attention, but they are never made a

matter of record. They are just between the almoner and the

individual. The Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction maintains

a splendid hospital for the treatment of crippled children;

and the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America have erected a

hospital for the treatment and rehabilitation of badly burned

youngsters, and of course you have all heard of the seventeen

Shriners' Crippled Children's Hospitals. This great humanitarian

project is supported by men who are first of all Master Masons --your

husbands, your sons, your fathers; and it is supported to the tune of

millions of dollars annually. If you could just see the stalwart

young athletes who annually play in the Shrine East-West All-Star

football game--if you could see them as they visit crippled children

of their own faith, of their own color,--if you could see them as

they hold those children tenderly in their arms,--oh, you would be

proud of the Mason in your Home. And if you could just see your

Masonic Service Association Hospital visitors at work in

approximately eighty Army,l Navy and Veterans Hospitals, your hearts

would be gladdened. How I wish I had the time to tell you some of the

stories I have heard, some of the things I have seen!


FOOTNOTE: [I] In 1979, the M.S.A. Hospital Visitation Program reaches

more than 100 V.A. and Military Hospitals.


For example, one of your Hospital Visitors, these soldiers of

Freemasonry, was involved in this story. He frequently visited the

sightless ward where he had provided Braille playing cards for those

who had lost their vision. Often as he entered the hospital, he would

hear the sweet tenor voice of a boy he knew only as Danny. When he

first heard Danny sing, he asked the ward attendant about him, but

all he could offer was, "Swell Guy, Danny. Doesn't talk much, but he

keeps the others cheered up with his old Irish songs and Negro

spirituals. Why, he seems to sense when someone on the ward needs a



Information about Danny was difficult to obtain. He received little

mail, no telephone calls, no letters. But your Hospital Visitors are

not easily discouraged. Records of Danny's service were carefully

studied and it was learned that before the War Danny had lived with

his mother whom he was now trying to shield.


Danny's social life ended in a shell crater in Korea, where he and

three of his buddies had taken refuge from a heavy barrage of shell

fire. As they were crouched at the bottom of the crater, a rifle

grenade landed on the lip of the crater and started rolling toward

the bottom. Danny ran and picked it up to throw it out of the crater.

But almost as it left his hand it exploded, and Danny's face and

shoulders caught the full force of the blast. His companions were

saved, but Danny's face and the

upper part of his body were a grisly mess. His right arm and shoulder

were mangled. In fact, his companions thought he was dead. Well,

there followed months, stretching into years, of hospitalization,

medical care second to none, operation after operation, and so many

skin grafts that everyone lost track. Danny's arm and shoulder were

almost completely restored, and plastic surgery made of his face far

less the hideous caricature that he imagined it to be; but empty eye

sockets can be filled only with useless glass.


He soon learned to identify people by running his fingers over their

faces and never one word of complaint crossed his lips. Everyone

loved him; everyone wanted to do something for him, especially our

Brother, for he knew that despite the fact that Danny brought cheer

to others, he was shriveling up and dying inside. He had no desire to

leave the hospital. The mother, who was not aware of the extent of

her son's injuries, must be brought to the hospital. But how to

accomplish this? Don't ask me how it was done. Resources were pooled

and the mother was sent a ticket. Of course she had to be met at the

station, and of course that responsibility fell to your Hospital

Visitor. He met her at the station and endeavored to brief her--to

prepare her--for the shock of the first sight of her son while they

were driving to the hospital. The ward attendant had told Danny he

was having a visitor, but he did not

say who. Our Brother escorted the mother to the door of the room, and

he felt her stiffen momentarily as she saw the boy. But then she

approached him in silence. (I suspect she just couldn't trust her

voice.) Danny stretched forth his hand and touched her cheek, and

almost immediately he said in a sobbing voice, "Mama! Oh, Mama!"

Instantly they were in each other's arms. Silently our Brother left

the room, eyes so blinded by tears he could scarcely see, so filled

with emotion he could scarcely

walk, but thankful to Almighty God that he was instrumental in

bringing Danny back to reality.


Finally the time came for the mother to return home, and our Brother

understood when she remained silent all the way to the station. But

just before she boarded the train, she turned to him and looking into

his face she said: "My boy is still beautiful to me and the doctors

tell me I shall soon have him home with me to care for and cherish,

and they also told me what you have done. Thank you, Mr.

Mason, thank you for giving Danny the courage to face the world

again. May God bless the Masons who made it possible!"


Ladies, and my Brothers, that grateful mother's blessings were meant

for each and every Mason who year after year digs down in his pocket

to keep the Hospital Visitation Program going. What does it cost?

Some give fifty cents; some a dollar; some five dollars or more. No

one gives more than he can afford. Perhaps we should. There are many

Dannys in service hospitals and, God help them, they will

continue to come, because in no place on this earth is there peace.

Let's face up to that. There is no peace. But, ladies, when they

arrive broken and maimed in the hospital, your Mason will see that

they are not forgotten.


Dear neglected ones, I hope I have given you a more favorable picture

of this mysterious organization to which the Mason in your home

belongs, an organization that spends daily on what others boast of as

charity, between $75,000 and $100,000 dollars! I Think of it. Please

believe me, I have merely scratched the surface in an endeavor to

bring to your attention some of the things which make Free-

masonry strong, some of the ideals which have brought together the

finest men every generation, and for many generations. Now that you

know a little bit more about us, you should be so proud of that Mason

in Your Home that you will shout it from the housetops.


FOOTNOTE: [11 In 1978, it has been conservatively estimated that more

than $1,400,000 per day was expended in Masonic benevolences.