Enjoy Your Journey, Especially the People You Meet Along the Way
By Grand Master Dwight M. “Mack” Sigmon
As I continue my travels across our grand jurisdiction, I reflect on the many wonderful events now behind me and those on the horizon. Each provides a unique opportunity to meet new friends and brothers and renew acquaintances.
One might think that the summer months provide an opportunity for some relaxation and a break from attending Masonic activities. That is far from reality as those months provide just as many opportunities to share in Masonic fellowship. And while the first half of my journey has been extremely busy, it has been extremely rewarding.
Through June, I had the privilege of presenting 11 70-year certificates, and many 25-, 50- and 60-year service awards at lodges, in homes and during my district meetings. I congratulate all who have or will be receiving service awards in 2019.
The annual installations of our North Carolina Shrine Divan officers were held in January. Linda and I attended each event and the hospitality extended to us was exceptional. My congratulations to Illustrious Sir Potentates Kenneth Jarrett (Oasis), Donald Slaughter (Amran) and Carl Smith (Sudan) and their officers for a successful 2019. I wish you safe travels on your journey.
In mid-February, our elected officers attended the annual Conference of Grand Masters of North American, held this year in the frigid climate of Rapid City, SD. What an honor to sit at the table with 64 other grand masters and participate in the business of this conference. I also had the opportunity to serve as an officer as a member of the planning committee. Approximately 900 Masons attended the conference. This is an excellent venue to learn and share best practices with other jurisdictions. This was a bittersweet conference for me, as it was my last after attending for the past three years.
The Grand York Rite annual communication was held in Clemmons in mid-March. I appreciate the kind hospitality extended to me during their session. I offer my thanks to our outgoing leaders and congratulate the new officers elected and appointed, especially Right Eminent Mike Daniels (Grand Commandery), Most Illustrious Kevin Wood (Grand Council) and Most Excellent Tom Bridges (Grand Chapter), who will lead our Grand York Rite for 2019-2020.
I attended the annual North Carolina Masonic Youth Leadership Conference at the Winston-Salem Masonic Center in late March. What a great experience to spend time with our future leaders. Anyone concerned about the future of our fraternity needs only to attend one of our youth meetings. You will have a different perspective after spending time with our Masonic youth. I had the privilege of witnessing the Rainbow Girls initiation and the Demolay Degree. I was very impressed with the dedication and performance of their ritual work. Outstanding! On June 23, I attended and spoke at the 82nd Grand Assembly of NC, International Order of Rainbow for Girls in Raleigh. This was another great experience to be with our future leaders.
The annual Grand Encampment Easter celebration was held April 20-21. I had the opportunity on April 20 to participate in a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Va., with members of our North Carolina Grand Commandery. The Easter sunrise service was held at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial the next day. I encourage all our members to visit our most famous Masonic Memorial.
In late April, I attended the Grand Lodge of South Carolina Annual Communication, and in early June, the Grand Lodge of Oregon. Both were excellent opportunities to witness how other grand jurisdictions conduct business and to renew friendships.
I was honored to be with the graduates of the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford at their annual Baccalaureate service on May 19. This was a unique experience for me, as it occurred nine days prior to the 50th anniversary of my 1969 high school graduation. I wish our four graduates a very successful journey, and I am thankful to the Masons of our grand jurisdiction for leading the way in ensuring their success.
The Grand Chapter of North Carolina, Order of the Eastern Star held its annual meeting June 9-12. I was honored to offer remarks on behalf of our grand jurisdiction. A special thanks to Sister Debbie Owen and Brother Allen Hughes for their great year and congratulations to Sister Louise Taylor and Brother Cutler Dillon for their election to serve as leaders for the 2019-2020 year.
I attended the 145thannual Imperial Shrine Session in Nashville, TN, in early July. My thanks to our three Shrine Temples - Amran, Oasis and Sudan - for their warm hospitality. I was honored to be a part of a large number of Grand Masters supporting Shriners International at their annual session.
In mid-July, I attended the 82ndGreat Smokies Summer Assembly in Maggie Valley. This year’s event added a statewide Royal Arch Degree, allowing me the opportunity as Grand Master to fill the role of Principal Sojourner in the Royal Arch Degree on July 13. The following Monday, I was honored to be one of several keynote speakers. Most Worshipful PGM (2010) William L. Dill gave the annual address at the Masonic Marker. Later this year, I look forward to conferring the Order of the Temple at a statewide event to be held at Castle McCulloh in October.
Our elected grand line attended the Northeast Conference of Grand Lodges in late July, as is customary each year. This year’s session was held in Bangor, ME. These conferences provide an opportunity to share best practices and understand the challenges/solutions other jurisdictions are experiencing. This was again bittersweet for me, as it was my last, but another opportunity to cross paths with grand lodge officers I have met on my journey.
In early August, I will attend the second annual Master Masons degree at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial hosted again by the Lodge of the Nine Sisters #773. It will be an honor to again participate in a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I will round out the month at the 2019 Biennial Session of the Supreme Council 33°, Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Washington, DC, where delegates and Masonic leaders worldwide gather every two years to conduct business. Illustrious Ronald A. Seale, 33°will retire after 16 years as the Sovereign Grand Commander for the Southern Jurisdiction. We thank Illustrious Brother Seale for his many years of dedicated service to the Scottish Rite and to Freemasonry.
Each of these events and many more gave me the opportunity to cross paths with many members of our fraternity and their families. The best part of my journey has been, is now, and will forever be the people I meet along the way. Never take these opportunities lightly or for granted. Each occurrence is a special and unique opportunity.
As Grand Master, it is humbling to serve the members of our craft. I always thought I fully understood the respect that the office of Grand Master receives and have been blessed and fortunate to know many Grand Masters. That understanding took a more meaningful perspective in mid-March when I attended a special 70-year membership celebration at a skilled nursing facility. It was well-attended by lodge and district members.
What I thought would be a typical service award presentation in honor of this esteemed brother turned out to be the most humbling experience in my entire Masonic journey of 44 years. The brother receiving his recognition was unable to walk, so assistance was required. I leaned down to shake his hand and introduced myself as the Grand Master.
At that moment, a huge tear ran down his face. I felt even more unworthy of holding an office that is held in such high esteem. The memory of this moment will remain vivid with me for the rest of my life.
Understanding that many of our craft never meet a Grand Master, it reminded me that I was elected to serve our craft and should support as many functions as my schedule will allow. While I consider myself just one of the Craft, I truly understand how important it is to others to cross paths with a Grand Master.
I am honored to serve as the 166thGrand Master of Masons in North Carolina and appreciate everyone I have crossed paths with during this journey. I hope you never underestimate the importance of crossing paths with others on your journey through life. I am especially glad our paths crossed.