"Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety"

The International Association of Lions Clubs was founded in 1917 by Chicago insurance salesman Melvin Jones. Business clubs were common in the days before television. Jones was a member of one, but he had a vision of a business club or association of clubs that was national or international in scope, and aimed at helping others rather than just shmoozing and making a buck. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Jones pitched the idea at his club in Chicago, and it caught on. He contacted other clubs, in Chicago and around the country, and by God everybody liked the idea. The Association was formed at a convention in Dallas, Texas, in October, 1917.

Their by-laws were idealistic: "No Club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object." This echoes one of the goals of the Rotarians: "Neither seek from nor grant to a fellow Rotarian a privilege or advantage not normally accorded others in a business or professional relationship." Why didn't Jones just join the Rotarians? They were founded in Chicago in 1905, and their principles are similar. Well, it may be that Jones was most interested in uniting and (morally) elevating existing business clubs, and the Rotarians weren't doing that.

The first "international" Lions Club was founded in Windsor, Ontario, in 1920; throughout the 1920s they expanded into China, Mexico, and Cuba. In the thirties they began turning up in Central and South America, in Europe in the late 1940s, and in 1952 they chartered a club in Japan.

Their emblem is a gold "L" on a purple background, with two lions facing away from each other. It is fraught with symbolism. One lion observes with satisfaction the past, while the other gazes eagerly into the future. Purple represents integrity, loyalty, and so on. Gold represents sincerity, purity, and generosity.

The motto of the Lions Clubs is "We Serve".


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