Sunday, February 18, 2018

GO: The Dale Earnhardt Tragedy

The following blog post is from Brother Dylan Kirk, State Senior Councilor of Pennsylvania DeMolay and PMC of Westmoreland Chapter.

In light of PA DeMolay's GO Racing theme, here is the story of the Dale Earnhardt Tragedy. The day was Sunday, February 18th 2001. The location was Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida. One of the greatest tragedies in NASCAR history occurred on this date. It was the final lap of the Daytona 500, traveling 180 mph, Dale Earnhardt’s car was tapped from behind, turned around and collided head-on with the retaining wall. He never regained consciousness after the crash and had to be cut from his vehicle. At 5:16 PM EST, Dale Earnhardt was officially pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Halifax Medical Center. "This is undoubtedly one of the toughest announcements that I've ever had to personally make," said NASCAR president Mike Helton, "but after the accident in turn four at the Daytona 500, we've lost Dale Earnhardt." "The Intimidator" was one of the greatest drivers to ever live. The 7-time Winston Cup champion had won the Daytona 500 in 1998, in his 20th appearance in the event. He had a total of 76 Winston Cup victories, including 34 on the Daytona track, and was the most active driver on the circuit.

After the crash, there has been some controversy that Earnhardt’s lap belt broke during the wreck due to it not being installed properly so Earnhardt could be more comfortable. It was eventually discovered that had the lap belt been installed properly, it would not have saved Earnhardt’s life. There were several safety improvements made in the sport of stock car racing. In response to the speculation about the broken lap belt in Earnhardt's car, many teams migrated from traditional five to six-point safety harnesses. After the 2001 ARCA EasyCare 100 at Lowe's Motor Speedway resulted in the death of Blaise Alexander, NASCAR mandated the use of head and neck restraints. In addition to head and neck restraints, NASCAR began requiring the use of SAFER barriers at race tracks in which its top touring series compete. The soft walls feature foam and move slightly upon impact, dissipating energy and resulting in fewer forces being exerted on the driver during an impact.

As today is the 17th anniversary of the passing of Dale Earnhardt, please join me in remembering his legacy. Today is also the 60th Daytona 500 race, so on behalf of PA DeMolay, we hope you enjoy the race. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thinking Outside the Box

One of the biggest challenges in DeMolay is for us to keep the program interesting for everyone involved, members and Advisors alike. In DeMolay and in Masonry, we're constantly battled with the mindset of "That's the way we've always done it, so that's the way it will have to be." What happens if we don't do it that way? What happens if we do something different and creative? The only real answer to this question is, "You won't know until you try." 

It's very easy to get complacent in our programs. The old saying goes, "If it's not broke, don't try to fix it." Although I agree in part with this saying, sometimes its needed to be original. The same thing that worked 20 years ago, may not work today. The thing that worked 20 years ago, may need to be revisited because it will work today. With DeMolay, I've learned that there is really no right or wrong way to do most things. Sure not everything works, but you have to be open to try new things. You have to be willing to adapt to the times and to the young men around us. I've also learned that even the necessary things that need to get done, should have some element of fun mixed into the program, otherwise you may lose people's interest.

"Dad" David Labagh taught a workshop at the last Patton Campus weekend about the 30 second elevator speech promoting DeMolay. He pointed out that the same words that were in that speech when him and I were in DeMolay, are the exact same words we use to promote DeMolay today. We need to be original and find a new way to promote the program that we all enjoy. The same can be said for lodge presentations, educational experiences, and even practicing ritual work. Most lodges may have seen the Flower Talk and Ceremony of Light so many times that their tired of it. It's OK to try something else. Maybe the Shield Talk and the Historical Lecture will keep their attention. Maybe do a question answer session or a quiz style program asking what members know about DeMolay. Try something new. If it doesn't work, try something else. Be creative in your approach. See what the other members want to do and build around their ideas. Think outside the box.

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin


Friday, February 9, 2018

Charity: Making a Difference

The following blog post is from Brother Tyler Moyer, Deputy State Master Councilor of PA DeMolay and PMC of Pilgrim Chapter. 

Charity is a principal tenet of Masonry. As DeMolays, we too are taught of its importance. While the installation of Almoner is one not too commonly seen, the lessons it teaches are quite valuable and important for all to know. The following is the part for installing the Almoner, “It is your province to remind us, in the performance of your official duties as Almoner, that charity, not the ostentatious and unmeaning doling out of alms, but the charity which has been translated ‘Brotherly Love,’ is a virtue which all should practice. The cry of need is ever sounding in our ears and to it our ears must never be closed.” My brothers, while we may not directly see the effects that our charitable contributions have on those they go to, we know that there are many who need it nonetheless, and thus our contributions must continue.

For the past 19 years, our State charity has been the Children’s Dyslexia Centers of Pennsylvania. In total there are eight centers scattered around our Commonwealth and they each offer selective services to children who are affected by Dyslexia. These services typically come to an annual total of $6,000, per child. While that may seem like a lot, it’s something that the centers make sure that no family has to pay.

Each year our goal is to see 100% participation from all Chapters, and this year is no different. We currently are at 50%, though there is still time to get your Chapter on board and make a donation to the State Charity. Even the smallest donation will go a long way and there are several opportunities available to make your donation. One of the more popular being Elizabethtown Chapter’s Dodgeball for Dyslexia on May 13th, there’s still time to sign up, donate, and have a fun time playing dodgeball with your brothers. Expect to see more postings on our Facebook page with more programs and opportunities to donate to our State charity. I’d like to leave you with this line from the 9 o’clock interpolation prayer, “We are all brothers of the helpless and suffering and rejoice in every call to the relief of pain or the alleviation of sorrow.” While we may not associate children with dyslexia as suffering or being in pain, there is still a call and an opportunity for us to answer.