Empire – DeWitt Clinton Commandery #14 and Bay Ridge Commandery #79 held their Annual wreath laying ceremony in honor of late New York Governor DeWitt Clinton.
The annual event, held on Sunday, April 29 at Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th Street, was to honor DeWitt, who served as the Grand Master of Masons in the state of New York for over a decade, was the first Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons and the first Grand Commander of Knights Templar in the state of New York. He was also the founding and first Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America.
Kenneth Jordan, the Commander of Bay Ridge Commandery No.79, discussed the significance of both the storied tradition, which started over 100 years ago, and Clinton.
“It is to pay homage to one of New York State’s most prolific and successful statesmen, the man who made New York the Empire State and New York City what it is today, a great and thriving metropolis,” he said. “Clinton was one of New York’s most influential politicians. When those in Albany thought his idea of a canal from Lake Erie to the Hudson River was ludicrous, it was his steadfast perseverance that made it a reality. Upon its completion, the canal became the gateway to the west, opening commerce from the East Coast to the Ohio Valley. The products shipped back to New York City were at that time at an 80 percent discount from the usual price, as well as arriving in a few days instead of a month long trip upon landing in Buffalo.”
The event was reinstated by Sir Knight Alfonso Serrano — who brought the two commanderies together in 1997, and reinstated the wreath-laying ceremony — after doing some research about the monument at the Livingston Masonic Library.
“Alfonso was the driving force behind the placement of the memorial plaque that is on the east face of the monument’s base,” Jordan said. “The plaque provides information for those not aware of Clinton’s past in state politics or his Masonic credentials.”
Jordan said that this year’s iteration was a success, with a little over three dozen people in attendance and an address by the Honorable David Dixon Goodwin, who himself has a laundry list of credentials within the commanderies.
Included during the event were marching maneuvers that the Knights Templar use to afford a military style honor to dignitaries.
The long standing tradition means a great deal to all involved.
“For the Masonic Community, it means that we forever remember those men who are inscribed in the pages of history who sought and maintained membership in our Masonic Fraternity,” explained Jordan. “This holds true around New York where every year a wreath-laying ceremony is also held for President and Mason Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay and a re-enactment ceremony is conducted each April to commemorate the inauguration of President and Mason George Washington. The community turnout varies from year to year but increases any time public dignitaries or their representatives are involved in the festivities.”