Author:Foreman, Kelsie

The secret society is no longer picking our country's leaders. Here's who is.

EVERY time my grandfather would pick me up from preschool as a child, I sat in the backseat of his car, watching the familiar reflection of sunshine hit the ring adorning his hand on the steering wheel. I never saw him without this ring, but it wasn't a token of his marriage to my grandmother.

Unlike a traditional wedding ring, it wasn't worn on his left hand. Rather, he wore it on his right. But that wasn't the only thing interesting about it. It had a thick gold band with a strange ruler and compass symbol topped with the "all-seeing eye" on a red center stone. Years later, I would learn that this symbol was associated with one of the most well-known societies in the entire world, and he was a member.

My grandfather was a Freemason. He joined the society in 1976, and before his death in 2008, he climbed the ranks to earn recognition as a 32nd-degree mason, one of the highest degrees in the order. He was a powerful man in the business community too-sitting on the board of a local credit union-and an important contributor to our local community, involving himself in many charities and other organizations. He was a philanthropic and socially just man, and like many Freemasons, he attributed his personal success to the lessons learned in this secretive community.

One of the world's largest fraternal organizations, freemasonry first emerged in Europe around 1717, with its roots tracing back to local stonemasons in England. Within thirty years, freemasonry ideals spread as far as the American colonies, where it was widely accepted by colonists and several of our nation's Founding Fathers.

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine were Freemasons. Though there were more signers who were rumored to be members of the society, it was confirmed through masonic records that Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Hewes, Wiliam Hooper, Richard Stockton, George Walton, William Whipple, Robert Treat Paine, John Hancock, and William Ellery all belonged to masonic lodges on the East coast.

Thirteen signers of the Constitution and 14 US presidents (including George Washington, James Monroe, and Andrew Johnson) were also confirmed Freemasons. So were Mozart, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill. J.C. Penney (a member of the Wasatch Lodge No. 1 in downtown Salt Lake City), J. Edgar Hoover, and hundreds of other affluent men throughout history.

With a...

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