Land of the Free

Written by: Gary Wonning

Masonic tenets and symbols have always played an important part in world history, many of which have been in existence since the beginning of time.

We often attend lodge and partake in the degrees, leave the lodge and forget how they can help us in our daily lives.

Today, I would like to discuss logic and how it leads from one phase of our life to another, often without even our knowledge and how applying logic to our lives we can restore faith in America.

Logic teaches us to guide our reasoning discretionary in the general knowledge of things and directs our inquiries after truth. A regular train of argument whence we infer, deduce and conclude according to certain premises laid down and we are given the facilities to conceive and reason where we are able to move from one graduation to another until the point in question is finally known or determined.

Sometimes life, guided by an unseen friend, unknowingly follows logic and we often wind up somewhere and learn something other than what our original intentions may have been.

Such was the case several years ago when I had the opportunity to spend some time in the outback of Australia. Originally, the purpose of the expedition was to photograph various areas of the country with the goal to publish a photo book on the life of the Australian people, including the aborigines.

This particular morning, we were on our way to Ayres Rock, or Uluru as the aborigines call it. A giant monolith in the middle of Australia, the largest sacred site in the world.

The bus picked us up at about 6 AM and as it made the final stop at another hotel to pick up the last two people, a cute young lady and her brother boarded the bus.

By the time the young lady boarded the only remaining seat was next to me, being quite shy, she reluctantly sat next to me.

More interested in getting some sleep than starting up a conversation, it was nap time.

A few hours later I woke from my nap and discovered the young girl had fallen asleep on my shoulder.

Being the perfect gentleman that I am, and quietly deciding what my next move would be, I never moved so as to not disturb her.

Here I am, on a bus, 10,000 miles from home, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of people I’m never going to see again, and I have a cute young girl sleeping on my shoulder, I’m just going to savor this for a while, thank you, God.

Soon she woke up, and realizing where she was, she was quite embarrassed.

Wanting to strike up a conversation, I asked where she was From. “Switzerland”  was the reply. She said she was traveling around the world with her brother and her final stop would be in the United States to visit her fiance who was a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

So much for my well thought out plans.

She then asked about me and I informed her I was from the United States.

She then asked rather rudely, I thought,”What are you doing over here in Australia?”

Picking up my shattered ego, and searching for an answer, I replied that I was with a group of 150 photographers that were photographing various parts of the continent and were planning on publishing a book upon returning to the states.

I asked her why she asked why I was in Australia.

her reply,”If I lived in the United States I would never go anywhere else, you have everything there anyone could ever want or need.”

“WOW” I had never thought that before.

A 19-year-old kid from Switzerland just told me something I had never really totally realized before.

I never forgot that.

A couple of weeks later, near the end of our journey, we entered the tiny town of Daly Waters in the Northern Territory a couple of hundred miles south of Darwin.

After spending nearly a month in the outback, removed from the rest of the world, most of us had forgotten what day it was , it really didn’t matter as long as the driver got us where we needed to be when we needed to be there. By that time most of us didn’t want the adventure to end and remembering the day just made the time seem shorter.

As we entered the tiny village with a population of seventeen, I noticed an old C-47 with U.S. markings sitting on an abandoned runway. At the time I never thought much of it.

We entered the pub, looking for something to quench our thirst.

To our surprise, the pub was nearly full, this was unusual, even by Aussie standards. It was the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week.

I wasn’t sure what day it was, but I knew it wasn’t the weekend, we were scheduled to be in Darwin on Saturday, this wasn’t Darwin, so it had to be the middle of the week.

Getting a drink, someone asked an older gentleman what they were celebrating.

  He replied they were celebrating the fourth of July.

We were startled, why would they be celebrating this America holiday?

His answer was that Australia was really appreciative about how the Yanks had bailed the Aussies out during WW2 when the Japanese attacked them.

Totally unprepared, Australia would have fallen had it not been for help from the United States.

It was gratifying to see people appreciate what America had done in the past.

It was sure a far cry from the rhetoric from the media.

I could go on and on, there have been numerous times the same theme has been conveyed to myself, and I’m sure to others as well.

Most people, even today realize, in spite of our faults, what a force for good the United States has been in world affairs.

Our local Shriner’s center has a weekly luncheon for the nobles who are able to attend.

A few years ago, a visiting noble from Massachusetts introduced himself and related how he was ninety-three years old, a world war two and Korean war veteran and how he was concerned about the direction the country was headed.

 As he walked back to his seat, he stopped, put his hand on my shoulder and with a tear in his eye, said,”I just don’t want to leave this world in the shape it’s in.”

Here is a retired veteran, who has already given more to his country than most of us would even think about doing, wanting to do more.

That’s something you can hang your hat on.

In this country, We don’t fight for a president, a congress or a government, we fight for an idea, an idea born several thousand years ago carried down through the ages by men seeking light. An idea that finally reached fruition by a group of about two hundred men a couple hundred years ago in a hot humid room in Philadelphia.

The idea of freedom and liberty, the idea that men and women should be able to choose how to live and run their lives with the least amount of government interference possible.

That is what our men and women in the military and law enforcement fight for every day of their lives.

We Americans sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in the country we do, and enjoy the freedoms most others in the world can only dream about.

The same can be said for masonry, and its appendant bodies, masonry or a version of it has been around since the dawn of time. The secrets of masons in masonry will tell you everything you need to know, to not only lead a good life, but improve the lives of others and our country.

Our country had an impressive beginning during the inauguration of George Washington as our first president.

Those who accompanied Washington during the inauguration ceremony, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, Baron Von Steuben, General Henry Knox, and John Adams, all were masons, except for Adams.

Included in the list, the governors of all the thirteen states were masons at the time of Washington’s inauguration.

President Washington then chose four masons for his first cabinet: Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War, General Henry Knox, and Attorney General, Edmund Randolph, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1788.

The Chief Justice and four Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. Four of the five were masons: John Jay, Chief Justice, and Associate Justices, William Cushing, Robert H. Harrison, and John Blair.

There is a possibility that Associate Justice, James Wilson may have been also a mason, but no solid evidence that he was has been discovered.

The first Congress elected had several masons in its membership.

In the Senate, twelve of the twenty-six were known masons: Oliver Ellsworth, James Gunn, William S. Johnson, Samuel Johnson, Rufus KIng, John Langdon, Richard Henry Lee, James Monroe, Robert Morris, William Patterson, George Read, Phillip Schuyler.

John Langdon was thus elected President of the Senate pro tempore, while twenty of the sixty-six men who served in the House of Representatives are known to have been masons.

Abraham Baldwin, Theodorick Bland, John Brown, Daniel Carroll, Elbridge Gerry, Frederick A. Muhlenberg, John Page, Josiah Parker, John Sevier, Nicholas Gilman, Thomas Hartley, James Jackson, John Lawrence, James Madison, Roger Sherman, William Smith, John Steele, Thomas Sumter, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, with Frederick A. Muhlenberg elected as Speaker of the House.

Quite an impressive start indeed!

What do we need to do to restore faith in America?

We don’t have to do anything new, the mysteries of masons in masonry aren’t secrets, they are out in the open for those able to see them.

The planet is rebooting as we did in the 60s, some things are disappearing and many others are appearing.

Many of the old ways, thankfully, are falling by the wayside, making way for a new and better version.

All we need to do is to not throw the baby out with the bath water, discard what doesn’t work and keep what works.

How do we know what to keep?

Remember what made this country great and all the good we as Americans have done in the world.

As I try to explain in my book, “The Wisdom of Our Ancestors,” I list 39 different principles we were taught growing up that are no longer taught to many of our young people,

All we need to do is get back to the basics and apply the time worn principles of masonry.

How do we, as masons, return our country to its rightful standing in the world and before God?

We just use logic, Logic teaches us to guide our reasoning discretionary in the general knowledge of things, and directs our inquiries after truth.A regular train of argument whence we infer, deduce and conclude according to certain premises laid down and we are given the facilities to conceive and reason where we are able to move from one graduation to another until the point in question is finally known or determined.

We will never have all the answers, we just take one step forward, and follow our guide, the answers will be given to us at the proper time.

We walk by faith, not by sight.

Gary has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.

His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.

He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.

He has published several books about his adventures.

For more information, please consult his website,

Your comments are welcome





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