On the morning of Tuesday, June 6, 1944, while the Allied Armies were landing in Normandy, France, the Grand Lodge of Nebraska opened its annual communication in Omaha. When Grand Master William B. Wanner opened the Grand Lodge at 9:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time, it was 3:30 p.m. in France. After the invocation by V.W. Grand Chaplain George Allen Beecher, the Grand Master announced to the assembled brethren: “We stand here this morning on the threshold of a great event in history. The first startling news we have had this morning should inspire all of us to greater achievement.”
In the afternoon, Grand Orator, Worshipful Bro. Francis L. Bouquet began his address, “The Altar of Masonry”:
“On a day so momentous as this—D Day in Europe; in a Day so momentous as this in the destiny of a people, and so vital to the existence of our Craft, no trivial theme can consume our attentions. For in this very hour, tens of thousands of our brethren, who from within our Citadel of Faith, heard the insistent and threatening alarm at the door, grasped from the Arsenal of Democracy, every available sword, and having rushed to the Ramparts Which Masonry ever watches with unceasing vigilance, now are engaged in mortal combat with the implacable foes of our cherished ideals and heritage. This very hour, craftsman Hiram Abiff is slain with violence in a thousand localities, and not nearly in pageantry, but in stark and dread reality. Many of these sat by our side, in this very place, a short year ago. But today they are away. Soon in our lodge may come the word to us that this very day, at the hands of the evil Ruffians, our beloved brethren met evil treatment. Soon in our lodges and in our hearts, acacia and evergreen may remind us that the cost of building the Temple is not yet fully paid, and that we, like our brethren, must labor to the end of our strength and our devotion.”
Due to emergency travel restrictions, the Grand Lodge of Nebraska did not meet again until 1946. At that June meeting, the Grand Lodge’s War Service Committee reported that in October 1945, 2,808 Nebraska Master Masons were in the armed services, along with 4,373 sons of Nebraska Master Masons. Of these, 94 were killed in action, 30 were missing, 21 were prisoners of war, and 244 were discharged.
For further reading, please enjoy:
The Grand Lodge of Nebraska Digital Proceedings (Masonic Digital Archives)
The Sesquicentennial History of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska 1857 to 2007 by MW Bro. Russell G. Reno, 2007.