To the Moon and Back with Buzz Aldrin

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Albert Einstein once said, “two things inspire me to awe – the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.”

Outer space conjures up a sense of mystery and the awe Einstein references. excitement. Looking up at the starry sky at night, we are often met with a feeling that can only be described as a mix of wonder. This simple action of looking up reminds us that there is something bigger than the tiny space we currently take up in the world. Many of us remember that special day on July 20, 1969 when our feelings of awe were palpable as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind.

The historic Apollo 11 tour went down in world history, and will always be known as one of the most important space missions of all time. The moonwalk was spectacularly important for NASA, science, and society as a whole. In addition,the first trip to the moon was also important for Freemasonry. Why? Because the Apollo 11 mission to the moon was piloted by none other than Buzz Aldrin, an active Freemason.

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photo from space.com

Both Feet on the Ground

You might know him as one of the first men on the moon, but we know him as the first Mason on the moon. Brother Edwin Eugene (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr. was an active Mason and is a member of Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417, AF&AM in Seabrook, Texas. He was born January 20, 1930 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey and attended The United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating third in his class in 1951. Brother Aldrin later went on to receive a PhD in Astronautics from M.I.T. in 1963. He served in the Korean War and and is credited with two enemy fighter kills during his tour.

Brother Aldrin was initiated into Freemasonry at Oak Park Lodge No. 864 in Alabama and raised at Lawrence N. Greenleaf Lodge, No. 169 in Colorado. He is also a member of York Rite and Arabia Shrine Temple of Houston.

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Photograph of Buzz Aldrin fraternally inscribed to Ben B. Lipset, part of the Buzz Aldrin Masonic Ephemera Collection at the Scottish Rite Museum and Library

Shooting for the Moon

On the crest of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, The Grand Master of Texas approved Brother Aldrin’s request to open a Representation of the Grand Lodge of Texas on the Moon and, thereby, establish Masonic Territorial Jurisdiction there. He also asked Buzz to carry a special deputation on his journey. Aldrin signed this deputation and confirmed that it was, indeed, carried to the moon.

Aldrin also carried a handmade silk Masonic flag with him on his space journey, embroidered with the words, “Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, USA.” After his mission on September 16, 1969, Brother Aldrin visited the House of the Temple in Washington, DC, and presented the flag to Grand Commander Luther Smith. The flag is now located in the archives of the House of the Temple.

The Sky’s the Limit

It’s no secret that there are a number of Masonic astronauts and the questions have been posed: Why are so many astronauts also Masons? And what did the first moonwalk have to do with Masonry? The answer boils down to one simple word: progress. Freemasons have always been on the cutting edge of new advancements and behind the development of impactful breakthroughs and innovations.

If the goal is to spread light wherever we go, then why not spread light past earth’s boundaries and into the darkest places we can reach? Brother Aldrin did just that, proving the point that “when man reaches new worlds, Masonry will be there.” Check back into the blog over the next few weeks for more famous Masonic men that have made the venture into the great unknown.