Thursday, June 21, 2012

Who should we be honoring?

With DeMolay International Session in full swing in Louisville, KY, lots of buzz is going around on the future of our organization. One of the most controversial topics on the agenda for this year is opening up the Legion of Honor to non-Masons / non-Senior DeMolays who volunteer with our organization. Over on Facebook, the Proud DeMolay profile has had a long discussion with over 40 comments on the subject. I have been one the people commenting back and forth. In an effort to solidify my opinion on the subject, I offer to you this blog post. As an aside, this is in no way the opinion of PA DeMolay, its Executive Officer, members, or volunteers. This is just my personal opinion - although I suspect many will agree.

I am absolutely in favor of creating a new classification of the Legion of Honor called the Civic Legion of Honor. This honor would be bestowed on non-Masons / non-Senior DeMolays for outstanding service to the order. It would have a different color cordon, but would in every way resemble the other two types of the Legion of Honor. It would also carry the same weight and same nomination process.

Why am I in favor of this? Primarily for two reasons.

1. The Legion of Honor has already been given to a non-Mason. Back in the 1930's, "Dad" Land presented the Legion of Honor to Herbert Hoover, who served as President of the United States. Hoover was a proponent of the DeMolay program, even having members meet with him for photos on the White House lawn. Hoover has public squares, schools, towns, and even a dam named after him. While he is a much maligned President, he was still a fantastic public servant. However, there is no reputable record of Hoover being a Mason. Many websites claim he was, but if you look at the actual research it has never been proven. "Dad" Land thought it was important to honor this non-Mason for his work, so why can't we honor those individuals who are making the difference in our programs? (Click the image at right to see a larger image. This advertisement was run in the 2011 DI Session book by PA DeMolay.)

2. I take a very Libertarian view of this issue. It's almost a "State's Rights" issue. Every Jurisdiction in DeMolay International must deal with a different Grand Lodge and must operate its program in a way that expands and grows the organization in that area. Some Jurisdictions don't need or want a Civic Legion of Honor and that's okay! Just like the Knighthood program, it could be used as an Executive Officer desires. However, there are areas that need this award. By denying it to those who could use it to expand their program, we are only hurting the organization. In an era of government oversight and regulation, many are crying for less involvement in their personal affairs. This is the same kind of issue - instead of punishing those Jurisdictions who want the honor or telling them what to do, why not give them the opportunity to succeed? In the mean time, you can do what is best for your Jurisdiction.

Now, notice what I didn't say in my arguments - I wasn't saying "Women should get the Legion of Honor." That argument is really what's at the heart of this issue for some people and is what causes such division among those who are able to vote. I chose to ignore that piece of the equation because, quite frankly, it's the smallest part of the problem. If you take out the concern that causes the visceral reaction, you quickly realize that the issues is about more than which "Mom" can get the recognition. Rather, it's about enabling your Brothers to grow the organization and giving them the tools to do so.

Why hinder a brother when you can help him? If you don't want to use the Civic Legion of Honor in your area, then don't. But, please, don't impair my ability to spread the word of DeMolay because of regional differences of opinion. I won't try to push you into using the program; all I ask is that you give me the chance to help DeMolay. Is that so much to ask?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony


  1. Creation of a Civic LOH is an interesting compromise of the two sides on the opening up of the LOH debate, and one that I think is worthwhile to explore. I'll admit that I have looked at all the resolutions for this ISC session too closely, but is the creation of a new class what is actually being proposed or is the amendment as it stands strictly expanding who may be awarded the HLOH?

    Also, on a related note, how do you feel about the proposal to lower the minimum age for HLOH?

    1. Thanks for your comments, Gabe! The resolution being proposed is not to add a new class, but rather to expand the existing classes (if I recall correctly.)

      As for the age restriction, I'm actually for leaving it at 30 for the Honorary.

  2. Why not honor those that deserve to be honored. Masons, non masons, men or women. Seth very good post. Change makes us a better organization.

  3. I would have to say that I think this is a good thing. If someone gives umpteen amount of service they deserve to be recognized no matter man, woman, mason or not. Why not recognize them! Really grreat post I very enjoyed reading it. -Marian