Sunday, July 15, 2007

Open letter to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York

Dear Most Worshipful Grand Master of New York, and Brothers, I was asked to help with this masonic project, in November of 2005. After 20 months of waiting, it appears that we are no closer to having permission for Land, Sea, and Air lodge to meet, that we were when I agreed to assist.I am somewhat confused at the situation, but since I am not a member of any New York lodge, and just an outsider, who is trying to help, it really does not matter.I propose that all agree to re-apply ourselves, to the task of re-establishing Masonry in the Republic of Iraq, at least for the US Military and civilian forces who are risking their lives here in this place.The Masonic Veterans of New York purchased $3500 worth of masonic lodge equipment and regalia, and it has been sitting in a secured storage locker since it arrived, in December 2005. I do not understand how you, as grand line officers can justify the expenditure of this amount of money, for the equipment just to sit, unused for all these months. But that is between you and the Masonic Veterans of New York. If we just "shuck it right down to the cob", as we say in Kentucky, the problem is that the Grand Lodge of New York has been sitting on this project, ever since I was directed to send the lodge charter back to New York in December 2005. I was promised that a new charter (or dispensation, or some other written authority to operate), would be issued "next year". I assumed that would be January 2006. It is now July 2007, and the equipment still sits in the locker, we have no authority to operate, and we are no closer to having masonic labor here, than when I sent the document back by certified mail.The solution is simple. I request that the Grand Lodge of New York, immediately, and without delay, issue a charter/dispensation/warrant, so that Land, Sea, and Air lodge #1 UD, can begin Masonic labor. There are many hundreds of Masons here in the Republic of Iraq, both civilian and military, who need and deserve to have masonic fellowship in a tyled lodge. These men work in miserable conditions, 12 hour shifts in 120 degree heat, wearing 75 pounds of body armor and equipment. They have not seen their families in months, and many are on their second or third tour here. I myself, have been in Iraq for 22 months, and I will be here for a total of 36 months. I have not been able to attend a masonic lodge meeting since July 2005. Iraq is a land of extreme danger, as you well know. But it is also a land of loneliness, boredom, separation from family and friends, and melancholy. How you can deny these fine men, who endure all this for your freedom, is beyond me. I have lived in a communist dictatorship, where Masonry is illegal. I have lived in an Islamic Kingdom, where Masonry is illegal. I have attended lodge in Russia, with men who risked prison to keep our craft alive during the communist years. I cherish Masonry. I believe that the military and civilian masons in Iraq deserve the quiet retreat of Masonry. Back in the summer of 2006, a Brother Mason who was a Navy SeaBee, was killed outside of my base. He was riding in a vehicle, and they hit a roadside bomb. He was torn in half from the crotch to the neck, and it took him a long time to die. The masons here wanted to perform a lodge of sorrow for our departed brother. But because we did not have permission to operate, we did not. I just hope that the Masons back in Texas have more respect for his sacrifice than the Grand Lodge of New York. During this entire time on this project, I have done everything I can to get authority to operate. Masons from all over Iraq, have asked me, when there will some chance for activity, and all I can tell them is to be patient.Although I am not a New York mason, I certainly respect your protocols and procedures, although I am by no means an expert on New York jurisprudence. I started a lodge website, under the explicit directions and guidance of the 2005 Grand Lodge webmaster, and the lodge website was in total conformance with the rules and procedures received from your webmaster. The website was donated free, and neither cost any money, nor generated any revenue. We received over 12,000 hits on the website, often congratulations from masons world wide for our starting a lodge here in Iraq. Then for no reason at all ,we were directed to de-activate the website.As I explained in my previous letter, there is no money or revenue from any source for this lodge. There is no bank account in New York, Virginia, New Jersey, or elsewhere. The balance is ZERO. Here is what we need to do:-Immediately issue written authority for Land,Sea, and Air lodge to begin masonic labor. We have a number of experienced masons from several US and foreign Grand Lodge jurisdictions. I have experience with military traveling lodges (I served in Saudi Arabia, where there are four masonic lodges). I can whip us into shape, and we can perform rituals and opening/closing ceremonies.-Immediately issue written permission to re-open the website for Land,Sea, and Air Lodge. We get the website for FREE, and no revenue is generated. We will keep the website in full conformity with applicable New York website policies. The site will be hot-linked to the Grand Lodge of New York website, and we request that the lodge website be similarly linked back from the Grand Lodge website.-Since it is a requirement for a New York Mason to be present, I request that the Grand Master direct Master Builder lodge #911 (or any other New York lodge of your choosing), to proceed to interview me by telephone or video conference, so that my application for dual membership can be duly balloted on. I applied with Master Builder #911 in December 2005 ,and they happily accepted my check for $75, but after all this time, I have never been interviewed, and no proper ballot has been made. Is it standard procedure for a New York lodge to accept dues payment from individuals, and then not act on their applications? My brothers, the problem is simple, and the solution is simple. Let's all work together, and move forward on this project. Masonically Thine,Charles E. MartinTall'Afar, Iraq

Friday, July 13, 2007

13 July 2007

HOT- I have never seen such HOT. One of my systems conked out yesterday. and I got it back on line. Then the same system conked out at 2pm today. I just spent an hour getting it back on line. A pain in the (expletive deleted).

However, the system should be smooth sailing from now on.

Did not get to see "Jeapordy" this morn,so I will try to get the 7:30 showing.

Friday, July 06, 2007

6 July 2007

For the Record: I am a CIVILIAN computer engineer. I am NOT a military person. I am a veteran, US Air Force 1973-1978, but now I am way too old and too fat for military service.
I am mighty proud to work with these fine men and women. I am not fit to wipe their shoes.

6 July 2007

For the Record: I am a CIVILIAN computer engineer. I am NOT a military person. I am a veteran, US Air Force 1973-1978, but now I am way too old and too fat for military service.

I am mighty proud to work with these fine men and women. I am not fit to wipe their shoes.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

1 July 2007 Iraq

Got up this morning, the usual heat was there at 0715am. Took my shower, and went to work. Systems normal. Went to breakfast, ate the usual, bagels, grits, juice, grapefruits, yogurt, milk. Still have some intestinal discomfort. Iraq climate and environmental bacteria will do that. Got on the computer. "Gunfight at the OK corral" is playing on the television in the other room.

Yesterday, got some mail. I ordered a watch from the USA last year, and it worked just fine, except there was a hair wrapped around the stem, under the crystal. (It is an analog watch). I sent it back to the dealer in December 2006, and asked for a replacement. The replacement arrived yesterday, 30 June 2007, six months later.

I also got 4 gallons of syrup for the sno-cone machine. An ice-cold sweet sno-cone is fabulous, when you come in from the 120 degree heat. A masonic lodge sent the syrup here, how about that?

I also got some supplies from including a new toothbrush. My old toothbrush was about disintegrated, so it was time for a new one. I scrubbed my choppers really vigorously this morning, I intend to keep my teeth for a long time. I have spent a bloody fortune on crowns and inlays, and spent more hours is the dentist chair, than I care to. I have been poked and prodded, and shot full of novocaine, and drilled on. My brother did not take care of his teeth, so he was keeping his false teeth in a glass, by the time he was 41.

Yesterday, there were a number of good movies on the TV. I watched "LA Confidential", and at 7pm "Casablanca" for the fortieth time. I always weep, when they play "La Marsellaise". I do not have much affection for the French, but even the French did not deserve to be occupied by the Nazis.

It was after 9:30, before I walked back to the trailer. I have figured out how to set the automatic thermostat, so the air conditioning comes on at 5:30pm, so that the trailer is cool when I get home at 7:00pm. I don't see any reason to run the air conditioning all day, when I am not there.

I am still not sure when I can get vacation. The firm calls it a "vacation mess". I asked for three weeks off, but the firm has to send a man in here, to cover my vacation. If there is no spare man, then there is no way that I can leave. I also found out that my contract has been extended through the end of November 2007. I should get a renewal, and thence be able to stay here until August 2008. In's'hallah.

My cell phone is working properly, at last. I tried to use it yesterday, and the indicator said to "insert card", I knew the card was inserted, so I took the phone apart, and just blew real hard on the contact points, and polished the card on my shirt. Presto- the contact points were clean, and the phone works.

The new people at the LTF (office where my computers are), are very nice. There is a new lieutenant, and a Sergeant First class. These two men seem to be terrific, and they have extended me the courtesy, of letting me store some equipment in a spare shed. 99.9% of the military people here in Iraq, are fabulous, only a few are real a--holes, you just have to learn to deal with it.

Letter to the Grand Master of Masons in New York

Here is a letter that I sent to the Grand Master of Masons in New York:

Dear Brothers, I am delighed to answer your questions. I request that you include the Worshipful Master and Secretary in all correspondence of this nature.I want to state for the record: I am NOT a member of Land, Sea, and Air lodge #1, and certainly not an officer in this lodge. I am NOT a member or officer in ANY New York lodge at this time. Once the lodge project gets officially underway, I can adjust my lodge membership(s) accordingly. Please keep in mind that any information I provide in this email, any postal correspondence, or telephonically is as an OUTSIDER who is not a New York Mason, and not under the control of any New York lodge or Grand Lodge of New York regulation. To get the "official" answers to your questions, I suggest that you go directly to the Worshipful Master, and/or Secretary. With this stipulation in mind, let us proceed:

1. Here is the email directing the lodge website be suspended until futher notice:=========> Subject: Lodge project suspended. Please put the webpage on a "hold"> > Land, Sea, and Air lodge #1, is on a "hold" right now, because the > GrandLodge is considering a new charter. Therefore, please remove > the website,> for the time being, and put it on hold as well.> > We are very grateful for your sponsorship, and the kindness of > hosting this> webpage. Please accept our gratitude.> > Once the new dispensation is issued, we will see about getting the > page back> on the web.> > Masonically,> > > > Charles E. Martin================

2. This is the only question, that I cannot answer fully. Over the past 18 months, I have sent out hundreds of emails, postal letters, and made many international phone calls. I cannot remember the addressees, nor the contents of these correspondences. Most have been deleted long ago. The lodge website received over 12,000 hits. There is no way to determine all of the individuals who visited the website. I have posted news about the Lodge on several different Masonic bulletin boards, and these messages were read by thousands of individuals. I have written up the lodge activities in my blog, and it has been read all over the world. I have sought advice on military traveling lodges from many different individuals, and I cannot remember them all. For the official list of contacts, I suggest that you get it from the WM/Secretary.

3. Easy Question. NONE - NADA - ZERO - NO MONEY - NOTHING - $0.00 - ABSOLUTELY NO FUNDS - BUBKES!!!!I have NEVER received any cash or monetary donations of any kind. I want to make this absolutely clear and have no misunderstandings. I have NO MONEY collected for this lodge. There is no bank account, no collection, no "cookie jar" , no funds. NO Dollars, no yen, no rubles, no Euros, no South African Rand. NOTHING. NO one has even offered to make any monetary donations. NO commercial firm ever contacted me about any financial donations. NO funds or royalties were ever offered or received from any advertisements. Please keep in mind, that this lodge has existed since 1917. I cannot speak for what occured prior to November 2005, when I was first asked to help in this project. If the lodge has some money squirreled away in some account back in New York, or if the lodge "passed the hat" back at FOB Speicher, I have no knowledge of this. Once again, for the exact financial report of the lodge, you should check with the WM/Secretary.

4. In November 2005, three (3) crates of lodge equipment was sent to me. These three (3) crates are sitting in a secured storage locker, on base. This equipment has never been used (here). I was sent a charter/dispensation, but I returned it, as directed, by certified mail in December 2005. I have no exact knowledge of the whereabouts of the charter/dispensation at this time. There may be some additional equipment or administrative records at some other location. Various correspondence and records may in the possession of lodge officers.For a full accounting of the lodge equipment, please check with the WM/Secretary.

5. The lodge website (inactive) was donated by an individual. NO charge was made for the website, and no money paid. The individual who runs the website, cleared it with the 2005 NY Grand Lodge webmaster, and was provided with a set of rules. To the best of my knowledge the lodge website was in conformance with all the guidelines. If the webmaster had any banners, or announcements, no fees or royalties were ever paid. Check with the WM/Secretary to see if any fees were paid.

6. NO advertising or announcements of any kind were ever made on any other medium, and NO FEES were ever paid to the lodge.Check with the WM/Secretary to see if any fees were paid.7. NO commemorative coin was ever struck nor sold nor given away. Once in 2006, an individual approached me, about the possibility of designing a coin for the lodge. I referred him to the WM, and informed the potential designer, that it was best to get any potential design approved by the Grand Lodge, before he went into production. The WM and the designer exchanged a couple of emails, but the coin project never got past the "talking phase". Check with the WM, to get a complete record.

7.At least one firm, WITHOUT my knowledge or consent, has produced a number of items with "Land sea and Air lodge #1" designs. I discovered this activity quite by accident, and I informed the Worshipful Master. This activity is a "pirate" activity, and to the best of my knowledge, no fees or royalties were ever paid to anyone. Check with the WM to get a complete record.

8. (see paragraph 3). You understand quite WRONG. I have never attempted to open a bank account in New Jersey, New York, or anywhere in the name of this lodge. I am not a member of LSA#1, and not an officer of this lodge, and thusly not authorized to act in the name of this lodge. There are NO FUNDS present in this lodge, and therefore NO NEED for any bank account.I did consult with a brother Mason in New Jersey, who is a CPA, about some administrative matters, and made some inquries about how to get a bank account (should the need ever arise), and how to get articles of incorporation, and power of attorney, and so forth. I just asked this individual for some advice and guidance. I took no action, I opened no account, I signed no documents. This was just a brother-to-brother conversation. I have also spoken with individual Masons (and non-masons) in Kentucky and Virginia, and other locations, about administrative matters, and articles of incorporation, and power of attorney, etc. Please keep in mind, that this is "undiscovered country" for me. I had never even heard of a traveling military lodge, until I arrived in Iraq. I have sought advice and counsel from Brother Masons and non-Masons all over the USA, and in foreign countries. I have attempted to answer all of your questions to the best of my ability. I will be glad to help you clear up any misunderstandings. Please, though, go directly to the Worshipful Master, when you need such information. He can speak officially "for the lodge", because he sits in the master's chair. I am not even a New York mason.Now that we have these items cleared up, let's all work together on getting a dispensation, and getting masonic labor underway in Iraq.Masonically Thine, Charles E. Martin