Saturday, February 23, 2008
A few weeks ago, I drove out to Alexandria and visited the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. The memorial pays homage to America's first president and most prominent Freemason, George Washington, and includes a museum with artifacts from the Washington family that were given to the Alexandria Lodge after Mr. and Mrs. Washington had died.
A visit to the memorial can include a one-hour tour, if you time it right. Having grown up Mormon and being a lapsed card-carrying member, the tour was a little funky doodle, let me tell ya. For those not in the know, Joseph Smith--the founder of Mormonism--was a Scottish Rite Freemason (as opposed to a York Rite Freemason) who borrowed some of the elements of Masonic rituals and incorporated them into Mormon temple ritual. Nothing like seeing the source for certain religious elements from your church outside the setting you're accustomed to seeing it in! Surreal is the best I can do to describe it.
Anyway--this statue of George Washington in his Masonic regalia is in the main hall of the memorial (click on the image for more detail.) In addition to the tour, you can also see the Alexandria Lodge hall, the Andrew Jackson Lodge hall, a replica of the original lodge, and--if you take the one hour tour--the observation deck where the views are stunning!
My favorite two comments from the docent (who happened to be a woman) before my tour:
"Masonry takes a good man and makes him better."
"My friends ask me how I can be part of an organization that doesn't include women and I tell them, 'Who wants to hang out with the guys anyway?!'"
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential