AUGUSTA --- Several Thomson residents recently attended the 10th Masonic District Banquet, which paid tribute to George Washington and four people who served America during war times.
The four people honored during the banquet were Roger Reid, of Thomson; Joann Malcom, representing her late husband, Jack, of Thomson; George Prince, of Augusta; and Wayne Marge, of Augusta.
The men were honored for their contributions and sacrifices to America during war times. They were recognized on Feb. 20 at the Scottish Rite Center off Washington Road in Augusta.
Mr. Reid and Mr. Prince, both of whom served in the Army, are World War II veterans; Mr. Malcom was a Navy veteran of the Korean War; and Mr. Marge, a Vietnam veteran.
The four men shared something more than just their military service. They each have been most active in area Shrine clubs.
Mr. Reid, a Pearl Harbor survivor, is a past master of the Thomson lodge and a member of the Harlem lodge. He also is a chapter member of the Legion of Honor under the Alee Temple in Savannah.
"It was very nice being honored by this group of fine men," Mr. Reid told The McDuffie Mirror . "It was a very nice ceremony. I really enjoyed myself."
Jack E. Malcom, Sr., was a two-time president of the Thomson Shrine Club, a former president of the Augusta Shrine Club and a 32 Degree Scottish Rite Mason. He also was a member of both the Thomson and Harlem Masonic lodges.
Mr. Prince, who served in the 77th Infantry Division, was a two-time president of the Augusta Shrine Club and past commander of the Legion of Honor.
Mr. Marge, who served as a squad leader in Vietnam from1965 to 1966, is a 32 Degree Scottish Rite Mason.
Bill Wagner, who lives in Boneville and who served as a sergeant major in the Army, led the salute to those specially honored. He also is a member of the Thomson Shrine Club and a 32 Degree Mason.
Mr. Wagner talked about the importance of not desecrating the American flag. He also pointed out that none of the four honored in the special ceremony would ever allow the flag to be desecrated in any manner.
"If you don't believe it, just ask any one of them," said Mr. Wagner.
As the lights went out in the building, the American flag became visible. A dim light was cast down upon it. In the middle of the floor of the auditorium, Mr. Reid rolled himself out in a wheelchair and looked up at the flag on the pole. Mrs. Malcom joined him a few minutes later. She was seated in a chair, proudly holding the flag, which had been presented to her during the funeral of her husband. Mr. Prince and Mr. Marge later joined them -- the four as near to the flag as they could get.
"A ceremony like that one is so touching, so moving," said Mr. Wagner.
Wayne Collins, of Thomson, welcomed members and guests to the Scottish Rite Center, saying, "This is an awesome occasion."
Mr. Collins noted that the Masons and others, were there to pay tribute to the four honored men and others who had been loyal, faithful members of the Masons for many years. Another man honored was our nation's first president, George Washington.
Mr. Collins along with Al Garner, past grand master of the Georgia Masons and guest speaker for the occasion, both talked about Washington's legacy.
Mr. Garner said a campaign is under way in Georgia by the Masons to hand out framed photographs of George Washington to various schools across the Peach State in hopes of re-establishing some of the sacred values that he had when serving as the nation's first president.