What do you like best about Freemasonry? For me, it's hard to choose. I look forward to the warm fraternal fellowship of our meetings. The ritual never loses its eloquence and ability to inspire. Studying about Freemasonry is an exciting journey with new experiences available at the turn of a page. Assisting the young men and women of DeMolay, Job's Daughters, and Rainbow is a virtual fountain of youth that can keep any Mason's enthusiasm for life in high gear. And then there are our Masonic philanthropies. Whether the person is a veteran, a senior citizen or a needy Brother, the thrill of touching another life for good never dulls.
Also, there are the children.
Since the 1950s, the Scottish Rite in the Southern Jurisdiction has served America, among other ways, through an ever-expanding network of Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs. Today there are 115 facilities or programs in our Jurisdiction, and for the last three years the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction has joined us in this effort. As of now, they have nine Scottish Rite Masonic Children's Learning Centers already functioning or about to open with 15 more in the planning stages. Our Order's flagship philanthropy, in both the Southern and Northern Masonic Jurisdictions, is growing by leaps and bounds.
Thus, it is with a great sense of fraternal congratulation and accord that I wish to recognize in this message and issue of the Scottish Rite Journal a very special milestone of our Craft's philanthropic service to America, the 75th anniversary of Shriners Hospitals for Children.
My good friend, Ill. John D. VerMaas, 33, Imperial Potentate, leads
the Shrine of North America today. Bro. John had a wonderful article, "Working
Together To Make Something Happen," in the October 1996 Journal, and I
am pleased to welcome him again to our magazine by having his remarks,
titled "A Year of Special Meaning," be the keynote of a special Scottish
Rite salute to all Shrine Masons and their great philanthropy.
Does it surprise you that the internationally renowned Shriners Hospitals for Children, celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, originated because of Freemasonry? It shouldn't.
After all, if you look back into the history of the Shrine of North America, which also reaches a milestone this year with its 125th anniversary, you'll find that its members were engaged in charitable endeavors long before anyone ever came up with the idea of starting a charitable hospital for children.
However, once the Shrine decided to establish its own philanthropy in the early 1920s to treat and care for crippled children, the rest is history.
Today, Nobles everywhere are proud of what Shriners Hospitals have done through the years to improve the quality of life for more than a half-million children with orthopaedic and burn problems. Not to be forgotten is research, which also plays a vital role in the daily activities of our hospitals.
In turning our attention this year toward the anniversaries of both the Shrine's and Shriners Hospitals' founding, we, as Freemasons, have reason to be filled with pride.
For us, these anniversaries should have special meaning throughout the entire year. After all, anniversaries are a time to remember...for us, a time to reflect on the many good works undertaken by Nobles...for us, a time to reflect on the excellent medical care that Shriners Hospitals have provided children throughout more than seven decades.
Yes, 1997 is a very special year for the Shrine and Shriners Hospitals, known as the "World's Greatest Philanthropy." Based on what's taking place today, the future looks bright for Shriners Hospitals, pioneers in the fields of pediatric orthopaedic medicine and burn treatment. (See article, "Helping Kids Get Back on Their Feet.")
Newton C. McCollough III, M.D., director of medical affairs of Shriners Hospitals, put it best when he said of Shriners Hospitals: "We must build on the success of the past to gain even greater achievements for the future."
I think the past 75 years have shown that our hospital system is prepared
to move into the next millennium, continuing its generations-long commitment
of helping children build better lives.