It is true that, from a modern perspective at least, the Knight Templar Class A uniform, with its distinctive Chapeau, lends itself to an amount of comedy. In my ten years as a member of the Commandery, no less than three separate girlfriends have derided me with spontaneous laughter when they first saw me wearing it. Down the stairs I came, to be met with hilarity….
With all it’s accouterments, epaulettes, trinkets and baubles, enough brass to make any South American dictator envious, one must ask: Is there yet place for the Knight Templar Class A Uniform in the twenty-first century?
Despite what several younger Masons might believe (some of whom have delighted in calling me “Captain Crunch” when suitably attired subsequent my appointment to the Grand Commandery line here in Colorado), I find, you might be surprised, actually yes.
The Templar Class A is devised to engender an air of aplomb to any proceeding. I use the word “aplomb” with definite allusion to the etymology of the word (“by the plumb”); and yes, a homophone is deliberately intended. Aplomb.
There is no doubt that a line of Sir Knights adorning the backdrop to any particular event elevates that event. Their presence lends a certain relevance and impressiveness by framing, from the sidelines, the central focus with distinct and suitable array of pomp and circumstance. In such capacity, the Sir Knight readily embodies the symbol of his office – a support, strong yet silent, assisting from the background by presence alone. That’s worth reflecting on. The Cap and Mantle, while nonetheless suitable attire for any Knight Templar, fails to make the same impressive, silent statement. Featherless, it lacks aplomb.
This was forcibly impressed upon me a few years back at the annual reenactment of Buffalo Bill’s Funeral, up there on Lookout Mountain overtop of Golden, Colorado. The Sir Knights assembled mid-morning, and up we strode, two by file, to gird the grave in parallel lines. The Brethren of Golden City Lodge No. 1 were thence suitably received in a border of glistening swords, white feathers atop black forms rustled in the breeze. There were tourists there, open-mouthed in the sunlight. Suddenly taken by surprise, they formed a small crowd in silence. And they watched – even the children were quiet.
Golden City Lodge No. 1 performed the ritual with acumen.
…The will of God is Accomplished. So Mote It Be.
The Knights, as silently as they had arrived, returned swords and marched two by file away. We were like punctuation – silent – not a part of the actual message per se, but nonetheless necessary for the comprehension of the statement to be properly perceived. Our disposition showed the beginning and accented the end. There was finality in our actions, finality made the more poignant by the image our uniforms struck.
On the way down that winding path that led back to the parking lot up there on Lookout Mountain, my wife and I were stopped no less than three times with requests for photos. Questions were asked, conversations that ordinarily would never have been broached found an entry point, interactions were catalyzed, and spontaneous friendships emerged, if only for a few minutes. One Czech immigrant actually requested a petition!
There is no doubt the Sir Knights, clad in their Class A uniforms, were instrumental in affecting the proceeding with due and proper solemnity, an air that manifested in the public a sense of wonder that demanded attention.
And yes, it may be an expensive outfit, problematic and time-consuming to dry-clean (removing and replacing all those accouterments). But, in many ways, it sets Knights Templar apart. The duty required to actually wear the uniform is, in and of itself, a discipline. There’s something to that, something worth contemplating.
In any event, in the ten years I’ve been a Knight Templar, only one girl I’ve dated did not burst out laughing when she first saw me wearing my Class A, topped with that irrepressible Chapeau.
As it happens, that’s the girl I married.