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General Hap Arnold Flagpole
Robert Arnold hoists replicas of his grandfather’s 5-star flags
Robert Arnold hoists replicas of his grandfather’s 5-star flags (Click to Enlarge Image)
Special Masonic Tribute on Veteran's Day
November 11, 2008

During the 49th Annual Sonoma Valley Veteran's Day Observance held on November 11, 2008 - a very special tribute was paid to the Greatest Generation of the Second World War who served under the command of Henry H. (Hap) Arnold, General of the Air Force and General of the Army.

In recognition of the fact that General Arnold was among the many heroes of the Second World War who were Freemasons, the Sonoma Masonic Lodge co-hosting the Veteran's Day Observance. And for the very first time, the event took place at the Sonoma Masonic Center.
In conjunction with the Observance, the brothers of Temple Lodge No. 14 dedicated a bronze plaque commemorating General Hap Arnold's many accomplishments. The plaque was placed at the base of a 15-foot tall solid redwood flagpole within the Sonoma Masonic Center courtyard. Lovingly restored by the family of Temple Lodge brother Ian Kruljac, this is the same handmade flagpole, which proudly flew the U.S. flag above General Arnold's historic ranch (El Rancho Feliz) in the hills above Sonoma from 1946 to 2008. General Arnold's Grandson, Robert Arnold, and his wife Kathleen donated the flagpole to the Sonoma Masonic Center following the sale of the General's ranch.

During the Observance, Robert Arnold was given the honor of raising replicas of his grandfather's two 5-star flags on this historic flagpole. General Arnold had the distinction of having two 5-star flags because he was the only American General to hold permanent five star rank in more than one branch of the armed forces (He was General of the Army and General of the Air Force). The actual flags are on display within the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

At the request of the Arnold family, the brothers of Temple Lodge No. 14 will fly General Arnold's two 5-star flag replicas on the following six days of the year from this historic flag pole: Memorial Day (Last day in May); Flag Day (June 14); General Hap Arnold's Birthday (June 25); Independence Day (July 4); the U.S. Air Force Birthday (September 18); and Veteran's Day (November 11).

The keynote speaker during the ceremony was Robert Arnold (General Hap Arnold's Grandson). The Honorable Joanne Sanders, the Mayor of the City of Sonoma, also gave a special Proclamation.

The highlight of the ceremony was a very special performance by the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team, from Bolling, Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. This is the most famous drill team within the U.S. Air Force today.

Three separate official military Color Guards also participated in the ceremony: the University of San Francisco Army ROTC Honor Guard, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard from Travis Air Force Base, and the Civil Air Patrol Cadets Honor Guard (Redwood Empire Composite Squadron 157). Each of these Color Guards symbolized an important era of General Hap Arnold's distinguished career.

Distinguished guests included several Wing Commanders from Travis Air Force Base along with many Second World War combat Veterans who served under the command of General Hap Arnold. They could be easily spotted within the audience by their leather flight jackets.

Immediately following the ceremony, many Veterans and their families  toured the Sonoma Masonic Center and Lodge Room where they enjoyed viewing a rarely seen portrait of General Hap Arnold which was donated to the Sonoma Masonic Center by Robert and Kathleen Arnold.

The official event program included a brief biography of General Arnold's life and listed several other distinguished American Freemasons who served during the Second World War. They included: General George Marshall; General Douglas MacArthur; Admiral Ernest King; General Omar Bradley, General Jimmy Doolittle; and Lieutenant Audie Murphy - the most decorated American Soldier during the Second World War. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman along with British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill were also Freemasons.

General Hap Arnold Sonoma Masonic Marker
General Hap Arnold Sonoma Masonic Marker (Click to Enlarge Image)
Portrait of General Hap Arnold
Portrait of General Hap Arnold
Click photos below to enlarge image