History of the Shriners
Shriners International is, at its most basic level, a fraternity.
It all started in Manhattan in 1870 when some members of what’s considered the world’s oldest fraternity – Masonry – were hanging out at their favorite tavern. They felt that Masonry, which traces its roots to stonemasons and craftsmen of the Middle Ages, was a tad too focused on ritual. These guys wanted a fraternity that stressed fun and fellowship.
Two of those gentlemen – Walter M Fleming, M.D., and Billy Florence, an actor – took that idea and ran with it. Florence came up with the idea for a Near Eastern-themed party after attending a party thrown by an Arabian diplomat. Fleming added the structure, drafting the fraternity’s name, initiation rites, rituals and rules. Together, Fleming and Florence designed the fraternity’s emblem, devised a salutation and determined that the red fez with the black tassel would be the group’s official headgear.
The first chapter, Mecca Shriners, met in New York City in 1872. As word got out about the fledgling organization, membership grew rapidly, spreading across the U.S. In the early 1900s, membership spread into Canada, Mexico and Panama. Today there are approximately 325,000 Shriners belonging to 195 chapters in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Republics of Panama and Philippines, Germany, and Puerto Rico.
Shriners International a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth, founded Shriners Hospitals for Children in 1922 as its official philanthropy. The fraternity, which has approximately 325,000 members worldwide, continues to operate and support the 22-hospital health care system today. Shriners International continues to support the hospitals by raising funds, assisting patients’ families with transportation, volunteering on hospital boards and much more.
Children from birth age to 18 receive expert specialty medical care at these hospitals, regardless of our patient’s or family’s ability to pay, thanks to the efforts of Shriners and other generous supporters. In addition, many Shriners Hospitals of Children facilities are engaged in medical research and are affiliated with the top academic medical institutions in North America.
Interested in becoming a Shriner? Go to http://www.beashrinernow.com/