Friday, May 14, 2010
Vol State Advisor Experiences a Solemn Ceremony
I'm a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, a family fraternity, and serves as the Grand Master for the state of Tennessee. The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are one of the only fraternal groups that when presenting a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery are allowed to walk into the Tomb area and present the wreath to the Guard.
The IOOF pilgrimage is a solemn ceremony that has been named “The Pilgrimage to the Tomb”. It is the result of a privilege that was afforded to the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs by our thirty-second President of the United States and an Odd Fellow, Franklin D. Roosevelt who was in the White House from 1933-1945.
June 17, 1934 was the first date for the Odd Fellow Pilgrimage. The purpose of this Pilgrimage was not only to honor the Unknown Soldier and the Nation’s War Dead, but also the members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows who had made the supreme sacrifice in World War I.
I have visited Washington, DC many times before and seen the changing of the guard. It is an experience that warms your soul knowing that the men in the tomb paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to have the freedoms that we have today. As former military, I know it is a privilege to be able to walk where only the Army Guards are allowed. To actually go and present a wreath to the Guard is truly an honor. We got to walk across the area in front of the Tomb and hand our wreath from the state of Tennessee to the Army Guard. Just being on that hallowed ground and being able to thank the Guard in person as I handed him the wreath gave me a rush of excitement. There have been many things in my life that I am proud of but this one is at the top of the list. It is a once in a life time experience and it is something that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life.
This Ceremony of Remembrance for those who have given their lives to preserve the “American way of life” enshrines the principles of Odd Fellowship – Friendship, Love and Truth. It is indeed an honor to be a part of this pilgrimage.