What is the Fraternal Order of Eagles? By Stephen Macfarlane.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles is a fraternal, social and humanitarian organization with thousands of member lodges, called "aeries", in most American States and Canadian Provinces. The Fraternal Order of Eagles raises millions of dollars each year, both internationally and at the local level, for a wide variety of charitable purposes.

Where did the Fraternal Order of Eagles come from?

It was incorporated in February 1898 in Seattle, Washington. The Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded by a group of theatre owners who originally called it The Order of Good Things. Their intention was to provide a meeting-place for like-minded men to socialize and to protect one another and their families.

John Cort, (first worthy president) April 1898, Harry Leavitt, John Considine, Thomas J. Considine, Mose Goldsmith, Arther G. Williams, Melvin G. Winstock, Horace E. Merkle and L.C. Brown.

What are the symbols of the Fraternal Order of Eagles?

The emblem of the Fraternal Order of Eagles is the American bald eagle, adopted at the turn of the century when many fraternal organizations chose an animal symbol to represent them. Most such organizations are now gone. The major survivors are the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) and the Loyal Order of Moose (LOM).

Another symbol is the Bible, respected for its wisdom and moral teachings. Aerie meetings take place around an open Bible. Should members wish to discuss matters outside the formal meeting (that is, while a meeting is in recess), the Bible is closed.

Finally, the flags of the countries in which there are Fraternal Order of Eagles Aeries are the official flags of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Currently these are the flags of the United States of America and of Canada.

All three of these symbols - the eagle, the Bible and the flag - are part of Aerie meetings.

What are the precepts of the Fraternal Order of Eagles?

Members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles take an oath based on the precepts of Liberty, Truth, Justice and Equality. The rites of initiation into the Fraternal Order of Eagles spell out these precepts, and what they mean in terms of members' obligations to one another and to their community.

What are the restrictions on membership?

The Fraternal Order of Eagles is a familial brotherhood. That means candidates for membership must be sponsored, in writing, by two current members; recommended to the general membership; and approved by vote of members present at a general meeting.

Just what is required depends on which Aerie you want to join. Each local Aerie is the sole judge of who its members shall be, based on the common bonds as those members understand them.

However, there are certain requirements implicit in the oath of membership that must be observed. While the Fraternal Order of Eagles is non-sectarian, for example, candidates for membership must believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.

Consistent with the principles of Liberty and Equality, as another example, they must not advocate the overthrow by force of their country's democratically-elected government.

Is the Fraternal Order of Eagles a political organization?

No, not in the generally-accepted sense. It has been, however, especially in the early part of this century, a powerful lobbying force for certain causes. The Fraternal Order of Eagles has traditionally championed the rights of working people. It was one of the first groups to fight for old age pensions and against child labor laws, and more recently has actively supported laws against age discrimination in the workplace.

Why is the Fraternal Order of Eagles not better known?

The Fraternal Order of Eagles has more than a million men and women as members, and raises millions of dollars yearly for countless charities. Yet outside of its own membership, the Fraternal Order of Eagles is something of a mystery, compared with many other civic, social and charitable organizations. Here are four contributing factors to this relative anonymity.

One, while Aeries don't try necessarily to be small, they don't want everyone as a member, either. As a fraternal brotherhood, Eagle members sponsor like-minded people for membership, who take an oath to live up to the principles of the Order. That's why, for example, mass-media advertising for members would be pointless: you still have to be recommended by existing members, and approved by the local Aerie membership, to be admitted.

Two, while there are certain "official" charities to which most Aeries contribute pooled funds, most charitable fundraising is done at the local level, for community-based causes. There's no national publicity in buying a van to transport the disabled, to help Alzheimers caregivers or to fund an equipment purchase for a local hospital. These and similar projects are, however, typical of the great majority of Eagles' charitable contributions.

Three, just as there is no "glory" in most Eagles' charity work, there's no "profit" either. Because Eagles don't skim "commissions" from the proceeds of charity fundraising, they don't have the budgets for public relations firms, advertising agencies and official spokespersons.

Four, Eagles are for the most part people of modest means living in small communities. While the Fraternal Order of Eagles has its share of celebrities, politicians and wealthy people as members and supporters, far more typical are members of Aeries in extended-family communities, where good works are counted more by sleeves rolled up than by cheques written.

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