WB Gregory J. Knott
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in early September, my wife Brooke and I visited downtown Chicago. As we were shopping, we came upon the old Medinah Shriners Temple, which was sold when the Medinah Shrine relocated to the suburbs. This building is now home to a Bloomingdale’s store and is well preserved. On the exterior you can still see the remarkable architecture of the building and numerous elements related to the symbolism of the Shrine.
Being curious as to what the building looked like inside, I went in to look around. The interior is no less impressive than the outside. It must have been obvious that I wasn’t there to shop as a couple of sales people asked how they could help. I told them that I was a Shriner and wanted to see this remarkable building. One of them pointed me to some display cases on the second floor that held lots of memorabilia related to the Medinah Shriners.
As I was looking through the items in the display case, a lady stopped by and we had a conversation about what the Shrine was and the fact that you must first be a Master Mason before becoming a Shriner. She told me her dad, now deceased, was a Mason in Milwaukee and he always held the entire Masonic fraternity in the highest of regards. She then said something to me that I was not expecting, “thank you for being a Mason”.
She went on to state that in her opinion, Freemasonry is exactly what young men today need. The moral values that we stand for, the opportunity for men of one generation to mentor men of the upcoming generations, the amazing Shriners Hospitals, were just some of the reasons. I was really humbled to have this conversation with her. I thanked her for the kind comments and assured her that as a fraternity, we are still here and are working towards exactly what she had pointed out. Obviously, her father left a tremendous impression upon his daughter as to what the fraternity stands for and the high regard for which she holds us.
In the weeks since this conversation, I have thought extensively about the simple words “thank you for being a Mason.” Can I live up to this woman’s expectations of the fraternity? Am I doing enough to bring other worthy candidates into the craft that I can help mentor or be a positive influence on them? Am I encouraging other members of the craft to do the same? My personal challenge to myself is to do more of all these things.
So, in closing if no one has ever said to you “thank you for being a Mason”, I extend to you a heartfelt thank you.
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.