Shriner History Page 8
The Fraternity Flourishes
As the hospital network grew, the fraternity continued in its grand tradition. In 1923, there was a Shriner in the White House, and Noble/President William G. Harding reviewed the Shriners parade at the 1923 Imperial Session in Washington, D.C.
The East/West Shrine Game
The East/West Shrine College All-Star Football Game was established in 1925, in San Francisco with the motto “Strong Legs Run So Weak Legs May Walk.” Throughout its history, this traditional post-season game has raised millions of dollars for Shriners Hospitals and helped millions of people become more familiar with the story of Shriners Hospitals. In this, as in other Shrine football games, the young players visit patients at, so the players themselves know the real purpose of the game.
The Peace Memorial
In 1930, the Imperial Session was to be held in Toronto. For his Session, Imperial Potentate Leo V. Youngworth wanted something special. With the appropriate approval, the leader of 600,000 Shriners commissioned a peace monument to be built in Toronto. It was to face south, commemorating 150 years of friendship between the United States and Canada.
The Peace Memorial was relocated and rededicated during the 1962 Imperial Session, and it stands today outside the National Exposition grounds in Toronto. When the Shriners returned to Toronto in 1989, for the 115th Imperial Council Session, the memorial was again rededicated, representing a renewed commitment to the Shrine’s international brotherhood and fraternalism. The plaque reads: “Erected and dedicated to the cause of universal peace by the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America June 12, 1930.”
The 1930 Session was the Shrine’s own antidote to the pervasive gloom of the Great Depression. But it was only temporary. Not even Shriners could escape the Depression. For the first time in its history, the Shrine began to lose members — the Nobles just could not pay their dues.
The struggle to keep the hospitals and the fraternity going during these years was enormous. It was necessary to dip into the Endowment Fund capital to cover operating costs of the hospitals. To ensure the financial distinction between the hospitals and the fraternity, a corporation for each was established in 1937.
The Shrine and its hospitals somehow survived the Depression. In the 1940s, like the rest of North America, the Shrine adjusted to wartime existence. Imperial Sessions were limited to business and were attended only by official Temple Representatives. Shrine parade units stayed home and marched in local patriotic parades. During the four years of war, more than $1 billion was invested by and through the Shrine in government war bonds. The hospital corporation also invested all of its available funds in government securities. After World War II, the economy improved, and men found renewed interest in fraternalism. By 1942, membership was once more increasing.