The following was presented January 5, 2021, by Education Officer Joe West.
In Token of Your Sincerity
- Mitchell L. Hensley, KCCH Executive Secretary
Albert Pike Masonic Center, Valley of Little Rock, Arkansas
Scottish Rite Journal January/February 2021
On a beautiful spring day in 1945, our Brother and President Franklin D. Roosevelt sat for a commissioned portrait at his retreat of choice that he affectionately referred to as the “Little White House ” in Warm Springs, Georgia. On April 12, 1945, life left this extraordinary man who had led our country for an unprecedented twelve years which included a Great Depression and most of the Second World War. On this fateful day, a peaceful transition of power that is so incredibly unique to democracy was set into motion.
Along our Masonic journeys, how many times have we been prompted by the words, “In token of your sincerity?” On that clear spring day in 1945, more than 700 miles away in Washington, D.C., an unsuspecting Vice-President and Mason from Missouri would soon have the weight of the world thrust upon his shoulders, and it is doubtful these five words were present in his thoughts as he discerned what had just happened to him — more often than not, traumatic and startling events tend to highlight our instincts and principles. How are those instincts and principles formed and molded, where do they come from? Our families? Our religion? Our fraternity? Hopefully, the answer is “all of the above.”
Throughout his life, Brother Truman had been known for being straight-forward, assertive, and blunt, a fact that only intensified as he ascended the political ranks. On one occasion, as Truman railed against his opponents during a speech, a supporter shouted, “Give ’em hell, Harry!” To which Truman quickly replied, “I never gave anybody hell! I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.” This endeared him to the people, as he stood for plain-talking, fair-dealing, and truth. Even though these attributes were refreshing, virtually no one believed he was equipped to be president, least of all, Harry Truman.
In the context of our fraternity, a token is defined as a visible or tangible representation of a fact, quality, or feeling. Sincerity is the quality of being free from pretense, deceit or hypocrisy. With this understanding, the true meaning and power of that token is revealed. At 7:00 PM on April 12, 1945, Brother Truman was conducted to the cabinet room of the White House and sworn in as the 33rd President of the United States. At the conclusion of the Oath of Office and before shaking the hand of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who had just administered the oath, Truman bowed his head and kissed the Holy Bible upon which he had just taken the Oath of Office. On the most overwhelming day of his life, Truman immediately harked back to his experiences in our fraternity and declared his mind and conscious free from any pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy by sealing this solemn oath with his Token of Sincerity. Brother Truman was a failed businessman from rural Missouri who would go on to become a monumental president in our nation’s history.
What does Bro. Truman’s example mean for current and future generations of Masons in this country? Our country is divided, and our world is hurting. Just as Brother Truman did, on the darkest day or during the most burdensome situation of our lives, we must stand up, with sincerity of purpose, and be the example of sincerity which the world needs so badly.