Memorial Day Address 2013

The Prince Hall Cemetery

Memorial Day Address — Monday, May 27, 2013

Pamela Meister, President
Arlington Historical Society

Welcome everyone, and especially the members of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, who join us here this Memorial Day as they have for the last twenty-three years, to honor the memory of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge masons who are buried here.

Memorial Day is a day in which we remember our dead.  We reflect on lives well-lived, and use those lessons to shape our own lives.  Here, we reflect not only on those whom we knew, but also those whom we did not know in life, but whose principles survived their deaths and provide valuable insight into lives well lived.

Prince Hall was a leader with a fierce commitment to justice, education and equality.  When he was not able to get the city of Boston to pay for a school for black children, he opened his own house for their schooling.  When he was not able to join a white Masonic lodge, he successfully fought for the right to open an African lodge.  This eventually led to the opening of more than 5,000 Prince Hall Lodges throughout the world.  Many of you have traveled today from his burial site at Copps Hill Burial Ground.

The Prince Hall Masons buried here, also led lives worthy of emulation.  For example, Jonas Clark, the first Mason buried here, was highly esteemed for his integrity and uprightness of character.

One hundred and forty-nine years ago, Grand Master William Kendall transferred ownership of this land to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge to serve as a Masonic burial ground.  Next year we will celebrate the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of this cemetery.

This small cemetery – – about 9,500 sq feet, casts a large shadow.  It is the only remaining African American Masonic cemetery in the United States, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is one of our Town’s treasures.