Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Legion of Honor = Responsible Leadership!

Legionnaires United to Educate Key Men
by David W. Berry, Executive Secretary

For the 8th year, Pennsylvania DeMolay has reached out to the Pennsylvania members of the DeMolay Legion of Honor, asking them to donate to the Pennsylvania DeMolay Key Man Scholarship Fund.  This will allow PA DeMolay to offer partial scholarships to the outstanding leadership training conference known for helping leaders develop and grow.

Key Man University will be held August 2-8 at the Masonic Conference Center- Patton Campus in Elizabethtown.  It will be attended primarily by DeMolays from Pennsylvania with visiting DeMolays from up to a dozen other states and Canadian Provinces.  It is an international leadership training conference that is recognized for its outstanding curriculum and enthusiastic volunteer staff.  2015 marks the 30th year for the Key Man Conference.

The cost for a Pennsylvania DeMolay to attend is $225.00. In order to offer additonal scholarships to deserving young men who are members of the DeMolay Chapters in Pennsyvania, PA DeMolay annually puts out a call to all of the Active and Honorary Legion of Honor recipients, asking them to donate to this outstanding cause. These Legionnaires always open their hearts and their wallets to support the cause in a big way.  Within 5 days of mailing out the 2015 funding request, twelve Legionnaires have already contributed a total of $1,000.00 to the cause.  They are the stalwart leaders in our past who are still leading us, today.

Last year, the Legionnaires - and, through their efforts, a number of Lodges and Masonic-related organizations - contributed a total of  $5,875.00, which helped 39 DeMolays attend the 2014 conference.  Depending on the amount of the donations received, scholarships are traditionally offered in amounts of $75.00 to $175.00, determined by the need of the DeMolay who attends the conference.

Pennsylvania DeMolay gives a heartfelt thanks and hearty pat on the back for our Legionnaires who are so generous in their support of our DeMolays through their donations to the Key Man Scholarship Fund.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Got Yer Ears On, Good Buddy?

Old Lessons Still Ring True
by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

"Breaker 1-9 to the eastbound Buster Brown. What's yer 20? Got yer ears on? This is the westbound Cheshire Cat shoutin’ at ya— come back, good buddy! Did you see any rolling gumball machines behind you?"

"Breaker 1-9 to that there Cheshire Cat. You'd better cool yer jets or you'll be bear bait fer shure!"

"That's a big 10-4, Buster Brown.”

In the “old days” when I was active as a State Officer in NJ DeMolay, we didn't have cell phones, but the thing that every teenage driver HAD to have was a Citizen’s Band (CB) radio. We could travel as a convoy, and talk to each other while driving, if within a range of a couple of miles, and if nobody else was on the same channel with a stronger signal. 

Every interstate trucker had one, of course, and they communicated with one another for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was to alert fellow truckers to the locations of “Smokey Bear” and “PYT’s” (pretty young things.) 

Some popular movies of that time made lots of money off the CB craze including “Convoy,” “Every Which Way But Loose,” “White Line Fever” and “Smokey and the Bandit” (parts 1, 2 and 3.)

Everyone had a nickname, called a “CB handle,” and mine was "The Cheshire Cat." (I can’t really remember why, but this was at a time when I was very content to melt into the wall or remain in the background, listening intently, saying nothing, and covering my awkwardness with just a smirk on my face.) But I liked it at the time and had personal letterhead made with the Disney cartoon image, and used it for letters to friends. 

My Dad’s CB handle was interesting to me— he was dubbed “Old Reliable” and I can only guess why, but I think my guesses are pretty good. In his work-life, he was an Electrical Engineer, and at some time in his career he was given the title of Reliability Engineer, either for the Bendix Corp, or the Conrac Corp., or Lear Siegler, Inc., or Smith Industries.

For the longest time, he couldn't tell me what he did for a living, because he worked on government contracts for the military and for NASA. He finally was able to tell me that one project his team worked on was the auto-pilot for the Gemini spacecraft. I remember asking him what a Reliability Engineer was, and he told me it was his job to break things… to test their limits… specifically to push aircraft instrumentation to the breaking point so that there would be zero chance of a failure when in flight. At that moment, my Dad became pretty cool, to me and I delighted in telling people he got paid to break things! But I also understood that he took his work very seriously, because his reputation, his company’s reputation and the lives of pilots and others relied on his work every day.

In his personal life, he also had a reputation for being reliable.

If Everett Labagh said he would get something done, it got done. If he said he was going to be somewhere, he was there. If he said he would complete a project, or learn a ritual part, or chair a DeMolay Advisory Council meeting, or drive us on a visitation, he did it, without fail. His word was as good as his bond. He was organized, detailed, and methodical. He kept an appointment calendar with him always, so he would never miss a commitment, and would be able to answer requests to help others on future dates. He kept careful notes on what was said at meetings and who promised to complete which tasks. He kept file folders on every activity and updated them frequently, so that nothing was left to his memory. To everyone he knew, he truly was “Old Reliable.”  

He seldom sat me down to specifically teach me a lesson or talk to me about what I should do, or how I should do it. He just set a great example for me, and for his peers, and every time I gave the first DeMolay ritual part I ever learned, the Fifth Preceptor, Fidelity, I thought of my Dad.

As DeMolays and as leaders, we should ALL be worthy of being called “Old Reliable.”

"This is the Cheshire Cat, KAMT1459, I'm 10-10 on the side."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Outdated Virtue?

How Can It Be Relevant If I Can't Pronounce It?
by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

Filial Love?  What's that?  What kind of a word is filial?  How is it pronounced?  What does that mean, anyway?  And why do so many Chapters have a Preceptor Cloth that says, LOVE OF PARENTS instead?  

Let’s go back to English Class for a moment:  The root of many of our words is Latin, and the Latin word for son is “filius.”  Filial Love is simply Love that is befitting, or worthy, of a son or daughter.  It is a love that is both automatic upon birth, and essential to the success of any civilization.  Yes, it is Love of Parents, but it is SO MUCH MORE than just an emotional attachment.

Filial Love, for DeMolays, is the PRACTICE of courtesy, affection, and obedience in the home.  We CANNOT SAY that we love our parents if we do not treat them with the same respect we demand from them for ourselves.  We CANNOT SAY we love our parents if we shrug off THEIR natural tendencies to show affection—those darn hugs and kisses in front of our friends—YUCHHH!—especially when we need to give those hugs and kisses back to Mom and Dad.  And we cannot say we love our parents, if we look for every way to thwart their rules, their curfews, their chores, their demands, and worst of all, their expectations of our success in school, work, sports, church, and yes, even DeMolay.  SAYING we love our parents, or even SAYING, “MOM… DAD… I LOVE YOU… isn't enough for DeMolays.  We must show it in our daily actions.

Sometimes, I wonder about the relevance of this virtue.  If you think about it, it is a strange virtue in today’s times, because, statistically, it doesn't have much meaning to many of our DeMolay Brothers!  So many of our members do not come from “traditional” families with “a Mom, and a Dad, two kids, and a dog.”  Recently, watching an the Initiatory Degree, I couldn't help wondering how many of our new brothers standing there COULD NOT RELATE to the simple concept of “HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER.”  

How many don’t have traditional parents, or even one parent at home, but rather, live with extended family, or a blended family, or in a foster home, or even an institutional home?  How did they feel when hearing this quaint language about the “home-loving, mother-loving, father loving young man?”  How did they relate to this Preceptor?  I could see some of their faces and could almost hear some of them say, “This doesn’t have any meaning for me….” or even worse… “Don’t these people know how much it hurts me to stand here and listen to this?”  And so I worry that we turn them off, and send them away with a view of our Order as simply out of sync with the times… an Order that has no meaning for them.  

Or, does it?

The Seven Cardinal Virtues are not  standards we all MUST REACH, or risk calling ourselves losers. They are, rather, IDEALS that we strive to promote and perpetuate. Because they are ideals, I would suggest that Filial Love is perhaps the most IMPORTANT of our Virtues, and we should give it most of our attention!  Here is why—-  sociologists give great weight to the strength of a family unit in the ultimate success or failure of a child to become a useful, productive and happy member of society.  Children who grow up with both of their parents statistically have the greatest chance at success.  The more traumatic a childhood has been, the less likely the probability of success, and NOTHING can be more traumatic than the loss of one or more parents, for whatever reason!

Here is where DeMolay can make a huge difference in the lives of its members!  Children-at-risk are most often those who come from non-traditional families—NOT ALL—I don’t mean to generalize—but statistically speaking, this is the truth.   DeMolay does two things in this situation—we talk about an ideal that we can all look at and strive to enact in our own families when we are old enough to have them.  Even more pertinent, we provide “surrogate” Moms and Dads who become role models and who give the personal attention to each and every member that ensures a successful Chapter, and perhaps, a successful life!

Do you remember how DeMolay started?  Dad Land’s heart bled for the quiet suffering of Louis Lower and his three siblings, whose father had died of an infection in his leg.  He reached out to Louis, gave him a job, became his friend, helped him finish High School, and ultimately felt that Louis was as close to a son as he would ever have.  He filled a void in Louis’ life at a time when that young man needed adult guidance and acceptance.  He modeled the Order of DeMolay’s future purpose—to become a family unit for those who needed Dads, Brothers, Sisters and Mothers. 

The First Virtue wasn't given its place by accident.  The language of the First Preceptor is not out of touch.  If someone hasn't grown up in a traditional family, how can he know its value?  How can he understand the emotional strength provided a son by both a father and a mother?  How can he say, "I want MY children to grow up in a better environment," if he cannot see or experience this model for life?  

In DeMolay, we offer a FRATERNITY FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY, wherein all CAN learn to value something that they may never have experienced in their own family life.

Filial Love, for DeMolays, is the practice of courtesy, affection, and dutiful obedience in our homes, with our parents or the adult care-givers we are fortunate to live with, and in our extended DeMolay family. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Each Chapter, By Ballot, Pledged Hearty Support...

"Dad" Land's Method of Effecting Drastic Change in the Order
by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

This 1934 "Secretary General's Bulletin" is an incredible example of how the Order of DeMolay has drastically changed from its early days of success, to its present deep cultural malaise.

Points to consider:

(1)   1934-- This is in the midst of the Great Depression... when DeMolay desperately needed money.

(2)   "Dad" Frank S. Land, as Secretary General, reached out and asked ALL the Chapters to respond to a question about a decision that would materially affect every Chapter's investment in regalia, clothing and jewelry.

(3)   There were responses from 1142 Chapters!  And 1109 Chapters (97%) were in agreement.

(4)   "Dad" Land knew how to get support for his ideas, by asking each Chapter to pledge "hearty support to the Grand Council in this matter and will seek to impress every member with the necessity of a personal cooperation in this endeavor."

(5)   Before the vote was taken, I would bet that the new emblem was already  designed, samples created and ready for production.

(6)   There was a FIRM commitment to protect the new emblem copyright by prosecuting vendors and pressuring  ANYONE infringing on the patent rights.

(7)   The stated reason was to REDUCE MATERIALLY the cost of jewelry to MEMBERS OF THE ORDER OF DeMOLAY, with only enough of a markup of cost to "insure proper handling."

Questions to think about:

(1)   When was the last time your Chapter received a communication from DeMolay International with the instruction that it must be read in two consecutive formal Chapter meetings?

(2)   When was the last time your Chapter's opinion was solicited by DeMolay International on any topic?  (Or by your Executive Officer?   Mea culpa, mea culpa!)

(3)   When was the last time EACH and EVERY DeMOLAY in the order was asked to support any DeMolay endeavor?

(4)   Why wasn't there more of a profit motive at work, when "Dad" Land brought the sales operation inside the DeMolay offices in Kansas City, Missouri?

Monday, February 16, 2015

So You Want to Be the Key Man Youth Director

How To Apply and Interview to Become the Key Man Youth Director

by "Dad" Zack Panitzke, 

President, Key Man University 2015

At last year’s Key Man University, we received a lot of great feedback about everything from the classes to the meals to the sporting events. The most consistent question I heard was: how can I be next year’s Youth Director?

After long discussions and intense debate (really; it lasted a whole ten minutes), we've made a decision. Beginning today, we’re accepting applications to be the 2015 Key Man University Youth Director.  

We’ll accept applications (see link below) until Friday, March 6, 2015. If your application is accepted, we’ll contact you to schedule an interview. Interviews will begin at the PA DeMolay Basketball Tournament and run through March 20, 2015. After that date, we’ll announce our selection.

In order to qualify, you must have attended at least one Key Man Conference in the past. It is not necessary to be a DeMolay in Pennsylvania, but you must be an Active DeMolay under age 21 through the end of the Conference.  You also must be able to arrive at the Masonic Conference Center--Patton Campus in Elizabethtown, PA no later than Saturday, August 1 and leave no earlier than noon Saturday, August 8.

Read through the responsibilities and application process below. You might also review the Key Man University online materials to see what the program is like if you didn’t attend in 2014. Finding out what you can about the job and the employer is an essential part of any job application process.


As the Youth Director, you’re responsible to be the face of Key Man University. You’ll get to work with the Directors and the rest of the staff to plan and execute the conference. Before the conference, there are a few specific responsibilities, including:
●  Develop the “Department Crown” award program for outstanding achievement.
  Assist with curriculum idea generation.
●  Write introductory and closing speech material for the beginning and end of the Conference.
  Attend regular virtual Director meetings.
During the week, you’ll have a few other responsibilities as well:
  Run the “Department Crown” award program.
 Preside at opening session, closing session, awards banquet, and other public presentations such as activities with the Masonic Village.
  Host distinguished visitors at meals at the Directors' Table.
  Supervise all flag raising and lowering events.
  Participate in disciplinary discussions involving Key Men and staff unrelated to zero tolerance issues. You will be the youth advocate, helping the young men communicate through the conflict.
  Be the “eyes and ears” for feedback from the attendees.
  Courteous lights out enforcement.

A complete list of responsibilities can be seen here.
Application Process
So how do you apply to be Youth Director? Follow these steps!
2. If you’re selected for interview, we’ll notify you by March 6, 2015.
3. Once you've been selected, we’ll schedule an interview with you sometime between March 6 and March 20, 2015.
4. The interview will be much like a real job interview, because this job comes with real responsibility. You won’t need to wear a suit, but you should look presentable and be ready to discuss your qualifications.
5. We hope to make a final selection within a week of the interviews, so by March 27, 2015. We’ll send you an email and an official invitation by mail.

That’s it! Fill out your application and get it to us as soon as possible. We look forward to reading it!