It is the custom of many fraternal societies to come together once each year to remember and honor those friends and brothers who have been called from their earthly labors. The winter and summer solstices are good times for this duty, as both are symbolic of death and re-birth and the cycle of life. In every true brotherhood of men, it is an act of fraternal courtesy to remember those we have lost whom we personally knew and most admired in life.
But this comradely connection is true of many thoughtful men, even beyond the ceremonies of fraternity. Men remember the men who are no longer with them who made the biggest difference in their lives.
These were the men who showed us what integrity looks like. They taught us that our own transformation to an improved being, fully capable of making a difference in the lives of others, is up to us; and can be realized in the example we leave for others.
In our fraternal society, those special few who have come before us and been an influence in our own life have always been the agents for this transmission. This is true in our Lodges and our Rites. But, on a broader scale, it is also true in occupations, communities, families and social relationships. The significance and meaning of social honor and integrity can only be carried forth in each generation by those honored men who have lived their life in such a way that the attributes of their good example seem right and compelling to the next generation. We should never forget that the kind of man we are will ultimately be the kind of man others see in us. Then, through us, to those who come after us. This is the chain of union in manhood. This is the legacy of good men.
And it is one reason we annually commemorate the memory of our forefathers. We do this to show manly respect; and we do it to check our own progress against the standards they bequeathed to us.
It is the way legacy works. The real ideals of heroism do not come from movies or comic books. Our heroes are found among those whom we have known and followed and admired to be the best models for our own life. They were once real live men with whom we could relate and touch and talk. They are the men we selected to best represent who we wanted to be like when we grew up. We craved their anointment. And, to a large degree, they now define us.
We face life with their kindness and honesty; their confidence and determination. We confront death with their faithfulness, courage and disinterestedness.
So, you see, if we have paid attention, the examples of the fathers, father-figures, brothers, companions and knights we once knew and most admired have prepared us to be worthy as men in our own time. Our task is to carry on the work which they have furthered so that it may also be said of us, as we can truly say of them, that the world is better because we have lived.
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
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