Last night was the 81st Annual International Night Banquet and Reception sponsored by Lafayette Lodge No. 241, Grand Lodge of Washington, F&AM. This invitational reception was intended to honor sitting Grand Masters by giving them the opportunity to sign the famous Lafayette Lodge Bible. This Bible contains the signatures of many recognizable personalities collected over the past several years.
The Lafayette Signature Bible was originally given to Lafayette Lodge by their sponsoring Lodge Arcana No. 87. It is not documented as to how or who originally conceived the idea of obtaining signatures of famous and influential people. However over the many years, the lodge has obtained the signatures of political figures, movie personalities, military personnel, foreign dignitaries, local dignitaries, visiting Grand Masters, and all of the Worshipful Masters of Lafayette Lodge. Perhaps the most famous signature is that of the late president Warren G. Harding. President Harding boarded his train for Washington DC, shortly after signing the Lafayette Bible, and died during the night while on his train ride. His Press Secretary verified this was the last time his signature was ever applied in any form.
Other noted personalities who have signed this Bible include: Lynden B. Johnson; Astronauts Charlie Duke, John Young, and Ken Mattingly; Henry A. Kissinger; Carl Gustaf (King of Sweden); Frank S. Land 33rd degree; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Adm. Richard E. Bird; Akihito (Crown Prince of Japan); Barry Goldwater 33rd degree; Ronald Reagan; Bob Hope; Red Skelton 33rd degree; Noble Eddie Peabody; Walter F. Meier; Douglas MacArthur 33rd degree; Henry Clausen 33rd degree; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Charles A. Lindberg; Harry Truman; Neil Armstrong; and many many more.
This year, it was my great honor to be included in the class of 2009 Grand Masters who were given this wonderful opportunity. My fellow Grand Masters who participated in this event were: MWB Kenneth G. Nagel (Grand Lodge of California); MWB David C. Triplett (Grand Lodge of Idaho); MWB Thomas L. Lund (Grand Lodge of Montana) MWB D. Arthur Bush (Grand Lodge of Oregon); RWB Patrick I. Hughes, Sr., 33rd degree (representing MWB Kenneth B. Anthony, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction); MWB Brian Tuckey (Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon); and, of course, MWB Gale H. Kenney (Grand Lodge of Washington). All of these Grand Masters were accompanied by their ladies and special guests. I had the honor of having both my wife Bethany and my parents; Kelly and Marge Cline accompany me.
I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Worshipful Brother Robert P. Cittadini and all of the officers and brethren of Lafayette Lodge No. 241 for their great hospitality and the wonderful honor they bestowed on me. I wish to extend a special thanks to Worshipful Brother Leonard T. Hutchinson, who was our personal escort on this momentous occasion.