Cornerstone for the Battle Within Memorial
Cementing our place in history
Out of all the signs and symbols used by the Masonic fraternity, the symbol that is perhaps most easily and frequently identified by the public is the Masonic headstone. Used by Masons to dedicate the construction of important buildings and other architectural works, the headstone is a visible signifier of the Brotherhood and its dedication to humanity’s constructive urge to build and improve its dwelling places.
In its literal form a cornerstone, also known as the foundation stone or the setting stone, is the first stone laid during the construction of the foundation of a building or other structure. The cornerstone is considered the most important foundation stone, as its placement determines the layout of the structure being built.
When a cornerstone for a new structure is being laid, it is common practice for a local celebrity, politician, or other person of importance to dedicate that stone with a prayer or recitation. Equally common is for those stones to be laid by Freemasons, and the Masonic Square and Compass can be found on many important buildings across the nation, including the U.S. Capitol building and the Washington Monument, though Masons will often lay cornerstones for buildings representing causes important to us as a fraternity, such as hospitals, churches and other religious sanctuaries, and schools.
In a symbolic sense, the cornerstone represents aspiration and endeavor; it is the symbol of the beginning of a great effort; bound within it, all the hopes and aspirations for the structure to come. As such, cornerstones laid by masons are bound with a prayer to deity symbolizing the best within the builders of the structure to be, but also as a promise to the Great Architect of the Universe that the purpose for which the structure is being erected shall be contemplated and pursued with all due solemnity and seriousness.
A ceremonial cornerstone will typically include an inscription of the date of its laying, and depending on the size of the stone may also include an engraved dedication commemorating the beginning of the construction of a structure. A large enough cornerstone may also include a time capsule including items from the era of its laying, to be opened by future generations. It is a common symbolic tradition for Masons to anoint a cornerstone with corn, wine, and oil, after confirming that the stone is square and level using traditional stonemasons’ tools. Finally, the cornerstone will be ceremonially struck with a gavel, representing it being put into place. This declares that the cornerstone has been laid, and construction of the structure may now begin in earnest.
An endeavor; a beginning, a grand aspiration, the start of a great project – the work of years, or perhaps even a lifetime. There is so much more to a cornerstone than a block at the corner of a building! The cornerstone we lay for the Battle Within Memorial is the beginning of a Great Work, not merely on a structure of concrete and steel, but on the cause and aspiration that structure represents. We seal and dedicate it as a promise to God that we shall not waver from the cause before us, as men and Masons.