DOVER — Tuesday evening a 2,000-year-old organization showed its relevance. In a ceremony held at their Pearl Street Dover home, the Moses Paul Masonic Lodge #96 played homage to veterans and longtime members, including a 70-year club member.
Honoring those present and past, local Masons held a simple and moving service.
Using a small table which occupied a “place of dignity and honor” in their meeting hall the group, led by Junior Warden Stephen Wawrzkiewicz, recognized all veterans — both POWs and MIA and those who have served their country.
Set for one, the table signified the fact that some are missing from their ranks. Other symbols included a red rose for the bloodshed, and an empty chair showing they are not among us. The Junior Warden described these symbols and voiced simply “remember” as a single bell sounded and echoed throughout the filled hall.
Other portions of the service included personal recognition of 12 veterans in attendance who served their country in times from William Hill in 1944 to John Gordon as recent as 2003.
Kris Furtney, Grand Master of the Lodge presided over the evening, announcing that the ceremony “serves two purposes, first to honor MIAs and POWs and also those who are currently serving as members of the uniformed services and second to honor those lodge members who have served.
Another part of the evening was spent honoring members of long standing in the lodge, with 25-year recognition given to Harold Oulton, John David and David Bailey.
Frank Freeland, John Moore, Donald Purdy and Jean LaBrack were presented with pins signifying 40 years of membership, leading into Ronald Rand and Leigh Ivey being honored for 50 years as local lodge members.
One of the most significant portions of the evening was the recognition given to John Andrew Taylor, who was lauded for his 70 years with the Moses Paul Lodge.
“Almost half the life of the lodge he has been a member,” said David Akridge, noting the organization was founded in 1890.
Special guest for the evening was New Hampshire Grand Master Paul Leary. Leary was key in the honoring of the different men, and spoke specifically of the uniqueness of a 70-year member. “I have only seen a few in the past year,” he said, noting that 21 is the age requirement to join, making anyone 70 years a member more than 90 years old.
Deputy Secretary Jim Miller was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal, and in a complete surprise to him some 14 members of his family came to the award ceremony. Miller was visibly shaken by the honor.
As Master Furtney described it, the Moses Paul Lodge is a participant in many areas of the community, contributing to the Dover Share Fund and Dover High School scholarships among many other endeavors.
Grand Master Leary in closing referred to the importance of family to the members in attendance, reminding them to say “thank you to your family, without their support, we wouldn’t be able to do our good work.”