Relatively few people know that parts of Kansas were once part of the original “Republic of Texas”. Just a few days ago (Apr 23) I attended a rare exhibit of historical artifacts which were authentic items from that period of Time. I am a history buff and I belong to both of the two major Masonic Rites myself: the York Rite and the Scottish Rite---but that exhibit was exceptional.
Professional Historians were there who displayed extraordinarily rare items, while wearing plastic nurse’s gloves: such as the handwritten letters signed by Sam Houston and a truly rare letter signed by Stephen F. Austin in his capacity as “Secretary of State” for the Republic of Texas. Also on display was a pistol belonging to David Crockett which was used at the battle at The Alamo and later recovered. All three of those men were notable Master Masons of their times.
On the flip-side of the coin was a display of possessions of the Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. He, too, was a Mason, but he was later expelled. As I tell my friends, there can be bad-apples in any group. It is best that we judge people individually on their own merits...or their own failings, and not paint them with a broad brush. Glossing-over history leads to false stereotyping and slandering the good image of others who may be totally innocent who may not partake of the guilty parties notorious acts. People may belong to any club, church, fraternal order or even our own family reunions. Nobody should jump-the-gun and automatically condemn others with the flimsy excuse of ‘guilt by association’.
Mexican General Santa Anna was an unusual character. Before I attended the exhibit I knew that he had his share of adversity combined with a big Ego. He was hit by cannon-fire in a battle with the French. His leg was amputated and Santa Anna ordered a “funeral” for his own leg and it was interred with full Military Honors. He had his ruthless side. Yet, he had a more decent, thoughtful side. I was highly impressed with his elaborate Masonic Apron decorated with impressive Symbolism such as “The All Seeing Eye of Almighty God” and above which was written, in English words, “Holiness To The Lord”. Near that, was the Jewish “Star of David”, an open Holy Bible with the “Square and Compasses” emblems reminding a man to walk uprightly and keep his actions circumscribed within due-bounds of law and morals. Other fabulous symbols on the apron included the “Hourglass of Time”, the Sun; the Moon; “Crossed Keys” (which normally denote a ‘Treasurer’, but in Santa Anna’s case may allude to his on-again/off-again Catholic faith); the Ark, “Jacob’s Ladder to Heaven”; the “47th Problem of Euclid” used in Geometry; and the “Sprigs of Acacia” to represent flowers placed by mourners at one’s grave after an honorable life.
Historical Exhibits teach us that “Freedom” and “Liberty” were not won easily. Furthermore, we shouldn’t take such things for granted. They were hard-won, but are easily-lost. All the men of history are lost...but thankfully the tangible artifacts survive. Those big brass boot-spurs of Santa Anna reminded me that we, as living people today, are responsible for spurring-on our own destinies. Let us hope that we leave a positive image behind, for succeeding generations.
James A. Marples,