by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J Knott
On a recent trip to Washington, DC I stopped by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. This grand edifice was established in 1910 with the formation of the George Washington Masonic Memorial Association by Freemasons across the United States.
It took several years of fundraising for the construction to begin in 1922 and another ten years for completion with the building dedication on May 12, 1932. An estimated 20,000 Freemasons and others attended this impressive ceremony. A cornerstone dedication was held with President Calvin Coolidge and former President and Freemason William H. Taft present.
The memorial is located on Shooter’s Hill in Alexandria, Virginia. This site is also the place where the 44th New York Volunteer Infantry set up camp during the winter of 1864; this unit’s mission was to guard U.S. military trains.
The memorial building itself is of classical architecture of both Greek and Roman influence. The design is influenced by the lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It is an imposing structure that you can see from miles around.
You can walk up the memorial via winding sidewalk up the front of the hill. On the way you come across a large concrete planter box with a sign for the memorial. A bronze bust of Washington’s head is on the marker with a quote that says:
“Let prejudices and local interests yield to reason. Let us look to our national character and to things beyond the present period.” - George Washington
Further up the hill you come across an enormous square and compass that is built into the landscaping. You can easily see this from the air when you are coming into Reagan National Airport on a landing, an excellent way to let the world know this fraternity is still there.
As you come to the top of the hill, the memorial stands boldly in front of you with a set of stairs leading to the front door. A portico with six columns rests at the top of the staircase and shields the front entrance from the elements.
Inside the portico are 2 marble tablets with inscriptions of two letters that Washington wrote about Freemasonry, one to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in April, 1797 and the other to King David’s lodge of Newport, Rhode Island on August 22, 1790. In both letters Washington talks about his admiration for the craft.
Entering into the building, you come into Memorial Hall where I was awe struck by the statue of Washington at the end of the room. It is large with Washington dressed in his Masonic regalia presiding over a lodge as Master. The statue was donated by the Order of DeMolay and installed in 1950.
On the walls are two large murals depicting a St. John’s Day Observance at Christ Church in Philadelphia on December 28, 1778 and on the south wall a representation of Washington in full Masonic regalia laying the cornerstone for the United States Capitol.
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