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Happy Birthday to a company of good men

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

Jerry N. Kirby, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas will be the guest speaker as Bandera Masonic Lodge 1123 celebrates 100 years in Bandera.

Bandera’s Masonic Lodge Chapter 1123 will celebrate its 100th birthday at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Lodge’s headquarters, located at 794 State Highway 173 South. The public is welcome to attend and learn about what many believe to be the oldest fraternal organization in the world.
Gene Carnes, Pipe Creek resident and Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, will kick things off at 11 a.m. with a presentation about the history of the Bandera Lodge. The Most Worshipful Jerry N. Kirby, the current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, will speak next.
The Bandera Grand Lodge was chartered on Dec 11, 1917, making this Saturday's celebration just one month shy of its actual centennial. But the Mason officers decided to celebrate the organization’s birthday at a time when the Grand Master could participate, and those dates were limited. The best time happened to coincide with Veterans Day, formerly observed as Armistice Day. (The Allies of World War I signed the armistice — or truce —with the Germans in France during the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The Masonic Lodge’s celebration is onlu one year away from the 100th anniversary of The Great War’s cease-fire, too, underscoring the significance of those historic events that occurred almost a century ago.)
The Bandera Lodge has approximately 80 members and its leadership includes leaders and long time residents of this community: Randy Boysen, Daniel Butts, Dustin Dees, Dock F. Dixon, Harry B. Harris Jr, Michael Haynes, Randy Kiehl, Matt King, Richard McDonald, Dan Mendez, "Paco" Moore, Bobby Salyers, Red Weathers and Kenneth Welch. The Bandera Lodge is committed to charitable work, especially for young people and schools. For instance, the Lodge sponsors an essay contest for fifth graders and provides winners with computers, printers, and scholarships. The Lodge also awards a $1,000 scholarship to a Bandera High School senior. The Lodge also has distributed some 5,000 FAN-tastic Teeth packages to first grade students throughout Lodge District 51. Each package included toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss. Bandera Masons also provide and cook briskets for the Bandera County Junior Livestock Show every year.
Members of the Bandera and Medina Eastern Star also make and provide Christmas stockings for patients at Shriners Hospital for Children. (The Eastern Star organization is similar to the Free Mason fraternity and many people belong to both groups.)
Today, Texas has 914 Lodges with 122,000 Masons. District 51 has a total of 6 Lodges located in Bandera and the neighboring townships and cities of Medina, Boerne, Kerrville, Center Point and Fredericksburg.
Freemasonry was established in 1717 in England, but it is generally believed that the fraternity’s roots date back a couple of thousand years before that, to the time of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Grand Lodge of Texas website, the main point of freemasonry is to take good men and make them better men. The numbers and variety of great and influential men who were at one time or are now Free Masons speaks volumes about the merit of this historic and contemporary fraternity. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin was a Free Mason, as were fourteen presidents of the United States, including George Washington, Franklin D. and Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Gerald Ford and others; and at least one five-star general —Douglas MacArthur. Other notable Masons include “King of the Wild Frontier” Davy Crockett and American Revolution patriot Paul Revere; comedians Don Rickles, Peter Sellers and Richard Pryor; musicians Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong; aviator and explorer Charles Lindbergh; the inimitable Harry Houdini; the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall; actors Clark Gable, John Wayne and Gene Autry; legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille; and countless writers, poets and philosophers, from Voltaire and Thomas Payne to Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Will Rogers and W.C. Fields— who once said, “You can’t cheat an honest man.”