Richard T. Nation
Most Worshipful Grand Master
Welcome Brothers, Sisters, family, and friends. Masons are taught to never embark on any great undertaking without first invoking the blessings of God. Worshipful Brother Grand Marshal, would you please escort the Right Reverend Grand Chaplain to the Altar? Masons only (***) So mote it be (*)
Thank you Most Worshipful Brothers Keith, Chris, and Terry for installing us this year. Brothers Wilson, Cloyd, Todd, Keith, and Joe, we are in for a wild ride this year. But as a team, as six Masons united in one goal, we can achieve anything.
To my appointed officers, District Deputies, and committeemen, you were each selected for very specific reasons. I know you to be men of integrity and Masons of the highest order. I look forward to working with you and thank you.
Nearly fifty years ago, I was introduced to this Fraternity. I was shown how Masons should act. I saw Masonry in action on a cold December day in 1963. Some of you have heard the story, but for those who haven’t let me just briefly fill you in. Our house burned December 21, 1963. We lost everything except the clothes on our backs. Before the ruins were finished smoldering, Brother Bill Mobley, a Past Master of Phillip Swigert No. 218 was handing my Dad a cigar box containing over $300. He and Brother Tom Bishop, a Past Master of Taylorsville No. 210 had collected it that day from the Masons in the tiny town of Taylorsville. Of course there were many Masons there. The Sheriff, the County Judge, both doctors, the County Attorney, the insurance man, the grocer....They gave unconditionally. They only knew a Brother was in need, so they did what Masons do. The next day Bro. Mobley showed up with a pickup load of toys. We never found out where they came from but I suspect the Masons had something to do with that too. They didn’t know it, but they planted a seed. A seed which germinated on my 21st birthday when I asked Dad for a petition. They never dreamed that the 5 year old kid they helped that day would someday stand before you as your Grand Master. I owe them a debt of gratitude I can never, never repay.
Brothers, I don’t think you can truly understand who I am and what my vision for this Fraternity is unless you have witnessed the miracles this Fraternity has afforded me. Until you’ve seen the sun rise at 3 AM over the North Atlantic on your way to England to help confer the Master Mason Degree, until you’ve watched the Master pass the hat to help a young widow and her two orphans, raise $2000 from about 50 Brothers and then have the Lodge match it, unless you’ve seen the Grand Master of Alabama stop his Grand Session, raise a thousand men to their feet for prayer for a woman 500 miles away who the vast majority never heard of or will never meet, until you pay attention to the countless small miracles that happen every day in our Lodges and our communities, you cannot understand. My vision for this Fraternity is that these types of things will be everyday occurrences. That we will become the kind of men to whom miracles and small kindnesses are second nature. That this Fraternity can show the world who we really are, the kind of men we are. Men who can be counted on, men who help the suffering and the oppressed, men who stand by their beliefs, men who practice honor and virtue, morality, brotherly love, relief, and truth, men who are men.
I have a dream for this Fraternity. One where God fearing, patriotic, virtuous men relieve suffering in this world, one community at a time. A dream where the workmen toil without jealously or discord. A dream where we truly do put a Brother’s welfare ahead of our own. You know, we changed the world once. I have a dream that if called upon, we will be the kind of men who could do it again. And Brothers, I have a plan of action. A little program that we’ve been promoting for the last several years could accomplish all of that. “Masonry Matters” is the vehicle. If we relieve the suffering and want in our school systems, we can raise up a new generation that will have experienced what Masonry can do. And I predict that a significant number of that generation will want to unite with us in our great works. But to attract great men, we must be great men. Above reproach. The cream of the crop. The best of the best. Are we? Probably not. Can we be? Absolutely yes. To paraphrase President Kennedy, “Brothers, ask not what Freemasonry can do for you, ask what you can do for Freemasonry.” Demand the best of yourself and demand the best of your Brothers.
Brothers, I feel very strongly that our charging dues to Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts without allowing them a voice in how those funds are spent is inherently wrong. I feel that it is reprehensible to take their money and give them absolutely no say in how it is spent. It amounts to taxation without representation. Our Masonic forefathers fought a war against the most powerful nation on earth over that very issue. I cannot in good conscience allow this to continue. In an effort to allow Lodges to return to the traditional way of doing things I am issuing an edict that Lodges may conduct routine business in the Entered Apprentice Degree. Only Master Masons will be allowed to vote, hold office, or serve on committees. Any Lodge wishing to do business in the Entered Apprentice Degree must notify the Grand Secretary and myself in writing, as well as notifying the members of the Lodge agreeable to Section 108 of the Book of Constitutions. This edict will expire at the end of my term as Grand Master.
I believe that I am standing here for a reason. I’m not sure what that is, but there is a reason I didn’t stand here a couple years ago or twenty years ago. God has something for me to do at this place and time. I can only pray that I’m man enough and Mason enough to fulfill His purpose. By now, some of you have seen my Grand Master’s pins. They are a little different. I had one Past Grand Master tell me “Nice pin but you forgot to put your name on it.” My name is on the back and in small letters. Why? Because Brothers, it’s not about me. It’s about God, Country, and Fraternity. The very things that are depicted on the front of the pin. What’s on the front is important, what’s on the back is trivial.
When I was a candidate for Grand Junior Warden, I told you about my PET projects. I told you that I believed that Masons should be among the most patriotic people on the face of this planet. I told you that I would demand that we take pride in ourselves, our buildings, our dress, our demeanor, and our work. I told you that I believed in education. We need to be educated on the tenets, traditions, philosophy, history, and teachings of our Fraternity. I told you there was a reason we say we are at labor on a degree. Masonry is not meant to be easy. It takes effort. I told you I would ask more of you than any Grand Master had in the past. But I also told you that I would never ask more of you than I would give myself. I told you we needed more training of our officers, members, and candidates. I wish we had the money to do that at the Grand Lodge level, but Brothers, all Masonry, like politics, is local. Most, if not all, of this teaching, training, and education should come from the local level, just as it did when our Society was being formed. And Brothers, we absolutely have to embrace technology if we are to survive. Our ancient operative Brothers were at the forefront of developing and using new technologies. Should we be any different? At a time of declining membership and revenues and constantly increasing expenses, we have to work smarter. I believe we can. I have faith in you my Brothers. Maybe more faith than you have in yourselves. I know you are good and true men. I know you want what’s best for this Fraternity. We may disagree about how to get there, but we all agree on the destination. And this Grand Master needs your support, your encouragement, and your prayers.
And finally, in conclusion, I’d like to thank some people for enabling me to be in the position I am. I’d like to thank Brothers Bill Mobley, Tom Bishop, Denton Thompson, Edwin McNeil, Pete Johnson, Buck Neal, Orva Langford, Harold Downard, John B. Clark, Sr., Frank Nation, Sheldon Nation, and, my dad, Ray Wilson Nation, all of whom are in the Celestial Lodge above. I want to thank Brothers like Joe Conway, Tom Larimore, Roger Moore, Charlie Jewell, Curtis Johnston, Dave Carter, Ray Marion, Pat Hart, Keith Dreier, Cecil Goodlett, Herman Forrester, Todd Eastham, Don Yankey, Terry Bowman, and my Brother from another mother, Chris Stout, and the, literally, thousands of you throughout this state and other states. I want to recognize all the members of Shelby 662, past, present, and future. Would you please stand? What can I say about the best Momma in the world? Thanks Mom seems so inadequate. I love you, thanks for supporting me. I want to send my love to my grandchildren, Sophia, Lily, Aiden, and Ella and their mothers Katie, Jessie, Nicole, and Stacy. I’ve lived for my sons, Brian, Richard, and Quinton. I love you. And finally, Karen, honey, I could not have done this without you. I waited until you said yes before I would run and when I lost in 2008, you took it much harder than I and urged me to try again. You are truly my better half, the ying to my yang, the salt to my pepper, the north to my south, my lover. My everything. I know you would have beaten me in 2010 if Henry had been allowed to nominate you, heck, I would have voted for you. You are my wife, the mother of our children, and my best friend, and I love you.
Brothers, thank you for sticking around today. I love you! May God bless you, may God bless the United States and her military forces, and may God bless this great Fraternity.
Richard T. Nation
Grand Master 2013-2014