Brother Sousa and his bands performed for Presidents, Kings and Queens, and numerous other heads of state as well as the general public. While Brother Sousa was known as “The March King” for the 136 marches he composed, he wrote many other styles of music, as well, and in addition to writing those musical works, Brother Sousa wrote full length novels.
Brother Sousa’s Masonic life was a very long and illustrious one after being born in Washington D.C. in 1854. He was a 51-year Mason, raised in Hiram Lodge No. 10 (now Hiram-Takoma Lodge No. 10) where he remained a member until his death in 1932. He was known for being very active in Masonry and occasionally showing up at various communications with an ensemble.
During his time as a Mason, Sousa wrote several marches with Masonic origins, notably: “The Crusader” (1888), “The Thunderer” (1889), and “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine” (1923), which is the anthem to our own Almas Shriners.
- July 15, 1881, Initiated, Hiram Lodge No. 10
- September 2, 1881, Passed, Hiram Lodge No. 10
- November 10, 1881, Raised, Hiram Lodge No. 10
- September 16, 1886, Received Capitular Degrees and exalted in Eureka Chapter No. 4 (now Mt. Vernon-William R. Singleton Chapter No. 3)
- December 3, 1886, Received Order of Red Cross, Malta, and Temple
- December 10, 1886, Knighted in Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar
- April 21, 1922, Initiated in A.A.O.N.M.S., Almas Temple, named honorary leader of Almas Temple Band
- 1998, posthumously coroneted a 33° and honored as Supreme Temple Architect, Supreme Council 33°, A.A.S.R. Southern Jurisdiction
Brother Sousa died on March 6, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Four days later, a full Masonic memorial service was held at his grave site located in Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C.
In honor of our Brother Sousa, on January 13, 2020, Hiram-Takoma Lodge No. 10 voted to sponsor a “John Philip Sousa Lodge,” and on January 22, the request to operate Under Dispensation was granted by our Grand Master, MWB Michael D. Nicholas, Sr.
The new Lodge’s mission and programs will focus heavily on music, with a connection to all forms of art as they can be applied to music. This work will also align with the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences of the Fellow Craft Degree.
We intend to honor Brother Sousa, whose works are performed around the world to this day. Brother Sousa’s gift of music benefits the world with sounds which are innovative and remain timeless. With all of that said, this Lodge is neither a “Sousa fandom Lodge” nor strictly a “musician’s Lodge.” We welcome all Masons to join us in our Labors and help shape a new Lodge in our Nation’s Capital.
The Worshipful Master, Marshall N. Willner, has called the first communication of John Philip Sousa U.D. on Sunday, February 23, 2020, at 10:00 AM, at the Takoma Masonic Center, with a short organizational meeting beginning at 9:00 AM with light refreshment. All are welcome, and please RSVP to Bud.Michels@gmail.com if you are able to make this historic event.