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The Forget Me Not
Remembering the countless Freemasons who have suffered and died for our Craft
I’m writing this post on Victory in Europe Day, while reflecting on all the free men who fought and bled and died so that we would be free to exist, as Freemasons.
The story goes something like this:
Much like today, when our United States Grand Lodges make new lapel pins each year, a German Grand Lodge did the same in the 1920’s. The pin of one of the German Grand Lodges, in the mid 1920’s was a representation of the Forget Me Not flower.
Over a decade later, in the late 1930’s the Nazi Party chose the exact same pin, made in the exact same factory, as a token to provide for those who contributed to one of its ‘charitable’ causes.
That instead of wearing these pins for a day or two, like many in the United States do now with the red ‘remembrance’ poppies given by the American Legion Auxiliary in exchange for a donation, Freemasons began wearing these little Forget Me Not pins all the time, as a secret sign of recognition, just as so many of us openly wear the Square and Compass today.
That in this way the spirit of Freemasonry was kept alive in Germany. Throughout the long night of Nazi terror.
That this humble Forget Me Not pin symbolized light, brotherhood, and hope for German Freemasons, despite the fact that the Order was outlawed, its assets were looted, its buildings were seized, and its members were persecuted up to and including with death in concentration camps.
In a nutshell, that is the story. It was brought to the attention of Grand Lodges in North America in the early 1950’s when a Grand Master of a newly reconstituted and reborn German Grand Lodge traveled extensively, handing out these little pins, while recounting the horrors that Freemasons suffered under the Nazi regime.
What we know for certain is that it was made a crime to be a member of a Masonic Lodge in Nazi Germany, and the nations under its control. That all Masonic property and records were stolen by the State. That the German State hauled Freemasons off to concentration camps where they were wholesale murdered right alongside Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all others whom the Nazi Party found to be undesirable.
We also know for certain that some Masons were able to go ‘underground,’ to hide, to go about unseen and unassuming, and in that way escape the terror.
What we don’t know is if the story of the Forget Me Not pin being worn by Freemasons in hiding as a covert sign of recognition is actually true. There is probably no one now alive in this world who knows for certain, and widely respected Masons have divergent opinions, Some believe the story to be true, others false.
As for me, I don’t know, and I don’t think we can know. By the grace of God, none of us were there.
More importantly though, I don’t think it matters.
Maybe the story of the little Forget Me Not pin is factually correct, maybe it is a myth.
It just doesn’t matter.
Freemasons, more than anyone else should understand the power of myth, and if it is a myth, it is a powerful one indeed.
What it teaches us is the same lesson that is imparted within part of the Second Degree. That Freemasonry survives. When everything around it is destroyed, still yet it survives. It survives because it exists not in a Temple, or in written records, or in investment accounts. It exists within the hearts of Masons.
Whatever the truth of the flower pin, we know for a fact that Masonic Lodge meetings took place in Prisoner of War Camps in both Axis Europe and Asia. We know that Lodge meetings took place within Nazi Concentration Camps. That in these cases, Freemasonry lived under conditions unimaginable to anyone who did not suffer through the horror.
That is what the Forget Me Not symbolizes. The unbreakable spirit of true Freemasons, those men who have taken Freemasonry so deeply into their hearts that betrayal of its sacred teachings is impossible.
That Freemasonry’s Temples may be destroyed, Masons may be murdered by the thousands, tens of thousands, yet Freemasonry can not be eradicated, for wherever there are men who hold the values and lessons of Masonry in their hearts, Freemasonry, like a Phoenix, will always rise again.
I think that the Forget Me Not also teaches us to persevere. We are living in an increasingly fractured and uncivil society. Yet we must continue to teach the great moral virtues.
Freemasonry is rapidly changing and shrinking, yet we must understand that it will never die, that no matter what is happening in the world outside of our doors, men will always continue to knock, seeking entrance.
Faith, Hope, and Charity. Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. These are the great and sacred teachings of our most Ancient Institution. It is our duty to protect them, inviolate, for all the generations to come. This is a most important thing for us to do as men and Masons. Just as those who lived through the Nazi horror without losing faith and hope preserved Freemasonry so that it thrives again today within Germany, and all the nations that suffered under Nazi rule.
Let us wear the Forget Me Not today, as a reminder of the true heroic greatness of countless millions of Freemasons who have gone before us.
"..And the Bright Sun of Masonry, once more emerging from its temporary eclipse, is beginning to bless our land with the invigorating heat and light of its meridian rays."
Like every Sunday, I’ll open Zoom at 7:30 this evening. Login information will go out via email to those with a paid subscription to Emeth at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.
If you would like to join in this Zoom gathering, but need to upgrade your subscription to do so, please do it before 5:00 this afternoon to ensure that you receive the information.
As in previous weeks, we can talk about what was discussed on Emeth over the past week, talk about what we would like to discuss in the future, and of course toast each other and our Ancient Craft.
The meeting agenda will be tight, and like always, limited to 40 minutes.
I look forward to seeing you this evening!
A lot of great comments were posted on last Sunday’s essay, Guard Our West Gate. This post also included information about how new Masons, and those going through the Degrees can receive a paid subscription to Emeth without charge, and how a Lodge can use Emeth to create a Masonic education program that the Brothers will enjoy. If you missed those, but are interested in learning more, please do check out the post.
We discussed the Requirements For Plural Memberships. I don’t think that anything close to a consensus was reached on what these requirements should be, but a lot of great perspective and opinion was offered. The next day we had a meeting of our Tiny Book Club in which RW Thomas Jackson asked: What Are We Trying To Save.
On Wednesday we discussed The Masonic Resume. It seems that records like this are something that few of us keep, but it was an interesting discussion, with some finding merit in the idea.
Also on Wednesday, I created a fun little post for Cinco de Mayo, in an attempt to honor one of the greatest Freemasons who has ever lived, Brother Benito Juarez. This post was an addition, beyond our normal schedule. Once in awhile the inspiration strikes hot.
Thursday we discussed at some future time using Virtual Reality as a tool to help us confer truly meaningful Degrees. I think that we are universally intrigued by the possibilities this would offer, especially in the second section of the Fellow Craft Degree. That day we also had our Live Open Thread for those with a paid subscription to Emeth. As always, the discussion in that thread was wide ranging, and quite excellent.
We closed the week with a very popular discussion about Building Management. The thread contains excellent advice for managing our Masonic buildings, from multiple contributors. I urge you to check it out if you Lodge owns a building.
All of these threads, with the exception of the Live Open Thread remain open. Please feel free to visit them, and add your own perspective or opinion. The more folks who participate with them, the better they will be.
I’d like to start off this week by giving a huge shout out and Thank You to all of you who are supporting Emeth with a paid subscription. I truly appreciate it, and Emeth could not exist without your financial support. So, as always, Thank You!
Thank you to everyone who has become a new subscriber since last Sunday! Both the paid and free lists grew quite a bit this week, and that is extremely gratifying to see. I hope that you enjoy Emeth, and I’m certainly glad to have you with us. If you ever want to reach out for any reason, just hit reply to any Emeth email and it will come straight to me.
I owe a huge Thank You to all of you who participate in our discussions. The wisdom and perspective you share with me, and everyone who reads what is posted on Emeth is quite superb. By sharing it, you are making a difference, you are improving Masonry.
Thank you to everyone who shares Emeth by forwarding these emails to their friends, or adding them to social media timelines. Our fantastic growth, and our reach is a result of your efforts.
Finally, I’d like to say Thank You to everyone who reads Emeth. A writer without a reader is nothing, so by giving me your time, you are validating what I do here, and for that I give you my thanks.
Just in case you missed it:
As I close, I would ask: If you enjoyed this email, will you consider forwarding it to your Masonic friends with your recommendation of Emeth?