FALLEN HEROES AND VETERANS.
A beautiful fall day, the color of leaves offered the feel of life’s changes. November 8th, 2008, was a perfect day for the Dedication Ceremony for the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Alpharetta, Ga. Jack Harrison, Commander of American Legion Post 201 of Alpharetta, Ga. Stepped to the podium. A large crowed was in attendance to hear the words dedicating this memorial to Georgians who served our nation. Many dignitaries, Mayor of Alpharetta, Congressman and other politicians where on hand. Right W. Bro. Leonard Buffington and many Masons were in attendance. Rev. Danny Philpot gave the invocation. Bro. Lt. Col. Craig Knowlton lead the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag.
A memorial to Georgian’s who have served the United States Military over the past two hundred and thirty two plus years. Many of whom were and are Freemasons. Many served. Many sacrificed their life’s health. Many sacrificed their lives. There is not enough words, enough praise, enough respect that can ever repay these citizens for their service to bring to us and preserve our freedom and our nation.
Early in June of 2008, Brother Dallas Johnson, volunteered to recruit Masonic Lodges in the community to join hands with the American Legion Post No. 201 to complete the park. Brother Dallas Johnson is the Senior Deacon at Clarkston Lodge No. 492 and a plural member of both Alpharetta No. 235 and Ducktown No. 372.
In a meeting in June, 2008 at the American Legion Post, where Bro. Dallas is also a member, he was told by Bro. J.R. “Chief” Wages the founder of the park that benches were needed for patrons to sit on while viewing the memorial bricks which bare the names of Georgians who served in the military.
Bro. Dallas knew that W. Brother Beaux Petty’s P.M. of Gate City No. 2, owned Inman Park Marble and Granite, Inc., a company that might be able to produce such a bench. They met and decided to move forward with the project.
Bro. Dallas then met with W. Brother Robert Young, Chair of the District Deputies of the 5th, Masonic District. With a price from W. Bro. Pettys, they set out to seek the assistance of lodges in the community to donate these benches to the Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Bro. Dallas has always stated that he felt Masonry should be involved in community projects and said: “American Freemasons have, since the founding of this nation, been an instrumental part of public projects. The cornerstones set at the nations Capitol, the White House, practically every courthouse, state capitol and post office built in the country
up to 1960 and a few afterward, is evidence of the involvement of Freemasonry in our communities. This Veteran’s Memorial Park is just one more place where Freemasonry can show its support for our nation.”
Bro. Dallas then visited lodges, Bro.’s Pettys, Young and W. Bro. John Holt spoke with lodges of the community to raise the needed money to buy the materials for the benches, while W. Bro. Pettys contributed the labor to manufacture, emboss, deliver and install the benches at the park..
A total of twelve benches were donated to the park by Masonic Lodges, Alpharetta No. 235, Clarkston No. 492, Ducktown No. 372, Roswell No. 165, Thomas L. Scott No. 739, Palestine No. 486, Gate City No. 2, Leroy Duncan No. 262, the Scottish Rite Valley of Atlanta, Daughters of the American Revolution, Fielding Lewis Chapter on behalf of the Masons of Georgia, W. Brother Paul W. Bessiere and Barbara Milam Thurmond.
Bro. Dallas Johnson a longtime advocate of Freemasons being involved in civic endeavors has been a member of American Legion Post No. 201 in Alpharetta for two decades. He served on the Old Soldiers Day Committee and has been very active in the Parade that the City of Alpharetta and the Legion Post 201 sponsor every August. W. Bro. Robert Young is a member of American Legion Post 201 and is a native of Alpharetta and Past Master of Grant Park lodge No. 604 and a dual member of Alpharetta Lodge No. 235.
Together, Bro.’s Young and Johnson while assisting Bro. Roger Wise with the Georgia Mason’s “CHIPS” program approached Bro.Wise and asked him to assist in the dedication ceremony of the park. The three Bro’s met with Jack Harrison the Post Commander and worked out the details. W. Bro. Robert Young was assigned the task of arranging for guests and writing the program.
Bro. Roger Wise used his good standing with Gov. Perdue to reward J. R. “Chief” Wages the founder of the park for his dedication and hard work as well show appreciation to American Legion Post 201 who donated the land for the park and who’s members have worked with Bro. “Chief” Wages to accomplish that which has been done to this point in history. Bro. Dallas: “The park will live on as a lasting reminder of the joint efforts of Freemasonry, public officials, the American Legion and citizens working together for God and Country.”
W. Bro. Robert Young, stepped to the podium to introduce the keynote speaker. It was an easy task because this keynote speaker is a special Mason, Methodist and Marine, WWII veteran and Patriot.
M. W. Bro. Joseph P. Suttles, Past Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, was the guest speaker. “Today we gather together from every walk of life, giving thanks to these who love our country enough to cause us to have a beautiful park that we can point to our young people and tell’em, what America means. America! America! God shed his grace on the and crowned thy good with Brotherhood, from sea to shining sea. ....... one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. How do we have this land? We have it because of those who have been called, who answer to duty, bore arms or whatever that duty may have been. Not only do we have a duty to our country, we should love our country and reach out further in our endeavors to support it. ...... Our young people should be taught about this nation we have and what has been given, has been given that we might have it. And, the freedoms that we have..... our fore-bearers sought after liberty, sought after justice....they had to bear arms.... for 235 years the United State Army has defended our country to preserve our freedoms and our liberties.......when the United States Army was formed a Great Mason was Commander of that Army, named George Washington. His birthday was February 22, and don’t ya’ll forget it either. He’s the father of our nation. Founder of our Navy was John Paul Jones who practiced Masonry....... the U.S. Marine Corps was formed by Capt. Samuel Nicholas in his own Masonic Lodge.” He went on to tell of Alpharetta Lodge and Roswell Lodge and their one hundred fifty plus years of community service. “And, today we give thanks to the American Legion Post and those who have gone before.....”
Bro. Roger Wise is a veteran and a member of American Legion Post 201, Roswell Lodge No. 165 and Director of Community Relations for the Georgia Child Identification Program (CHIPS) a program sponsored by the Masons of Georgia.
Bro. Roger Wise said: “Freedom is not free.” Having served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Bro. Roger knows first hand the price of freedom. The foundation that supports wounded and killed military personnel families through problems caused by a family member’s service to our nation, www.freedomisnotfree.com raises the needed funds to support our military families.
All of this, support of a memorial park honoring our veterans, a dedication to our nation’s citizens who gave up their time, in the form of being in the military, to those who suffer from wounds, and who have died, is a Masonic endeavor that shows Masonic patriotism and dedication to our nation. Any person who has served our nation will tell you straight up, freedom is not free as echoed by the steady voice of Bro. Roger Wise.
Is it important that the Masons of Georgia support such endeavors asked one Brother? The answer can easily be found in our Nation’s Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and in our way of life. It is the love of freedom and our country that brings out the best in our people. Freemasons have been there every step of the way. Freemasonry is the Band of Brothers, the few who work behind the scenes to assist in the furtherance of that which Freemasons set out to create for the common man and preserve through time immemorial: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom!