National Sojourners – by Bro. Brett A. Cook, WM
The National Sojourners is an American patriotic organization of Freemasons who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Members are organized and meet in Chapters.
The National Sojourners have an unequaled military Masonic history. Born of the requirements of wartime, the Order has been nurtured by the desire of displaced military Masons to seek each other’s company, counsel, and aid.
Early in 1900, after the North Dakota Regiment departed the Philippines with its Field Lodge dispensation, a group of Masons organized an informal club and named it the “Sojourners.” In 1901, these Sojourners provided the impetus, funds and paraphernalia to charter Manila Lodge under the Grand Lodge of California. One of the original Sojourners, Surgeon Captain Harry Eugene Stafford, 33 degree, Chartering Master of Manila Lodge, in 1913 became the first Grand Master of the newly created Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands.
The Philippine “Sojourners Club” resurfaced in 1907, open to Masons who were not members of local Lodges. Within a year it had nearly 200 members from every state and territory and eight foreign countries. Most of the Philippine Sojourners eventually became scattered throughout the United States. A group of these Masonic military officers sojourning in Chicago in 1917 formally organized the “Chicago Sojourners Club.”
Additional clubs were quickly formed at Army posts and Naval bases under the name “National Sojourners Club.” In 1927, the word “Club” was dropped and they became “National Sojourners, Incorporated” in 1931.
The “Purposes of National Sojourners” is to affirm and support their Masonic Brothers, our Fraternity, and our Nation. In the absence of local Blue Lodges, Sojourner chapters have in effect, replaced the military Lodges of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.
Sojourner actions, similar to those in the Philippines, have been directly responsible for chartering numerous Blue Lodges and other Masonic bodies worldwide. Whenever regular Masonic Lodges are present, active duty Sojourners routinely affiliate and energetically participate. Sojourners traditionally sponsor the majority of military personnel petitioning for Masonic membership and stimulate our military Brothers, past and present, to reestablish and strengthen their Masonic ties.
Sojourner efforts are directed toward Americanism and Masonic activities. Patriotic activities include speeches, flag ceremonies, presentations, and other actions intended to promote national security and true love of country, with special emphasis on youth – such as Youth Leadership Programs, essay contests, educational programs and involvement in ROTC and JROTC awards. Their service to the Craft through their Bridge of Light Program strengthens Masonry by involving Sojourners in all Masonic activities, especially in the Blue Lodges.
The Sojourner’s National Headquarters is located at the Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism, north of Mount Vernon on part of George Washington’s original River Farm. It is appropriate that our dedicated military-Masonic Order is permanently associated with our country’s most distinguished soldier-Mason and the ideals that he represented.
For additional information, see the National Sojourners website.