(Senior Grand Warden & Past Master - La Fayette-Dupont Lodge No. 19)
As part of our annual celebration of the installation of our new Grand Lodge officers on December 9-11, our Grand Lodge hosted a number of visiting dignitaries at Arlington National Cemetery, where our Grand Master Roman Volsky led a delegation that laid a Masonic wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
The weather added to the drama, as our group of approximately 30 Masons walked in the season's first snowfall to the Tomb area. Before we laid the wreath, we witnessed the changing of the Tomb Guard, a brief ceremony that draws people from around the world. This simple, yet dignified transfer of responsibility demonstrates military precision and discipline for which The Old Guard is renowned. The ceremony takes place despite all weather conditions, in stifling heat or freezing cold, without a change in any movement of the soldiers.
After the changing of the guard, the guards returned with a beautiful wreath in the shape of the Masonic Square & Compasses. Our Grand Master, Roman Volsky led the Wreath Party, and he was accompanied by our Deputy Grand Master, Richard Bautista, the Grand Master of Massachusetts, WB Paul F. Gleason, and the 110th Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Most Worshipful Brother Charlies Iain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont.
The wreath party placed the wreath at the base of the Tomb of the Unknowns, and paused with their hands over their hearts, as the Old Guard soldiers saluted and a bugler played the sad notes of "Taps" as the wet snow fell on everyone.
But the weather could not dampen the spirits or patriotism of our assembled group, who then were bused to meet their significant others at a wonderful luncheon at the Beacon Hotel in Dupont Circle.
This unique event was coordinated with Arlington National Cemetery many months in advance, and was sandwiched between the Friday night Annual Membership Banquet and the actual Installation of Officers, though it proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend for many of our guests.