Building Greater Union Through Virtue

Remarks by Wor. Hamilton at the Wreath Laying Ceremony at Mount Vernon

Serving as Worshipful Master in the Lodge of Washington is truly humbling. As we gather here today to celebrate Illustrious Brother Washington’s 292nd birthday, I am reminded of the two centuries of Masonic ancestors who have completed the same ritual. As in any family, our chosen Masonic family is strengthened by our annual returns to tradition and ritual. Just as a family is reunited around a Thanksgiving table, Masons in Alexandria – Washington Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Virginia are reunited annually in our commitment to our obligations through honoring one of our greatest exemplars. On his birthday, we are reminded of Washington’s lifelong pursuit and significant sacrifice to create union, liberated from oppression and committed to equality. These Masonic ideals are our legacy and our mandate and we honor Washington’s memory through our commitment to them.

This year in particular, in this sacred place, I think about the special relationship that a 19-year-old French aristocrat forged with a 45-year-old revolutionary leader. The Marquie de Lafayette looked to Washington as a father figure, and on his return to the United States in 1824, the accounts of him kneeling and weeping before the sarcophagus of Washington underscore the depth and importance of this relationship. We empathize as we remember our own passed fathers, grandfathers, and Masonic brothers. We recognize that mourning is, in its own right, a celebration of light that once shown brightly. Lafayette said, “In my idea General Washington is the greatest man; for I look upon him as the most virtuous.” These sage words are a charge for us to also strive to emulate Washington’s virtue.

There is little doubt that 2024 will be a turbulent year in the United States and around the globe. We are challenged to draw upon the lessons we have learned in the Craft and Washington’s example of building greater union through virtue. We are challenged to subdue our passions and commit to understanding those perspectives that we question. We are challenged to be good Freemasons, brokering greater civility and ensuring the potential of the country Washington envisioned might be more closely achieved. As I lay a wreath today on behalf of Alexandria – Washington Lodge, in commemoration of this most esteemed Masonic family tradition, I do so in hope that we can be men who would make Washington proud and who might live into Lafayette’s assertion that, “Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights.”