Lions Clubs International -- Triumph of an Idea
The International Association of Lions Clubs
began as the dream of Chicago insurance man Melvin Jones, who
wondered why local business clubs -- he was an active member of
one -- could not expand their horizons from purely business
concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at
Jones' idea struck a chord within his own group, the Business
Circle of Chicago, and they authorized him to explore his
concept with similar organizations from around the United
States. His efforts resulted in an organizational meeting at a
local hotel on June 7, 1917.
The 12 men who gathered there overcame a natural sense of
loyalty to their parent clubs, voted the "Association of Lions
Clubs" into existence, and issued a call for a national
convention to be held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of the
Thirty-six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states
heeded the call, approved the "Lions Clubs" designation, and
elected Dr. William P. Woods of Indiana as their first
president. Guiding force and founder Melvin Jones was named
acting secretary, thus began an association with Lionism that
only ended with his death in 1961.
That first convention also began to define what Lionism was to
become. A constitution and by-laws were adopted, the colors of
purple and gold approved, and a start made on Lionism's
Objectives and Code of Ethics.
One of the objects was startling for an era that prided itself
on mercenary individualism, and has remained one of the main
tenets of Lionism ever since. "No Club," it read, "shall hold
out the financial betterment of its members as its object."
Community leaders soon began to organize clubs throughout the
United States, and the association became "international" with
the formation of the Windsor, Ontario, Canada Lions Club in
1920. Clubs were later organized in China, Mexico, and Cuba. By
1927, membership stood at 60,000 in 1,183 clubs.
In 1935, Panama became home to the first Central American club,
with the first South American club being organized in Columbia
the following year. Lionism reached Europe in 1948, as clubs
were chartered in Sweden, Switzerland, and France. In 1952, the
first club was chartered in Japan. Since then, the association
has become truly global, with clubs in more than 170 countries
and geographical areas worldwide.
The proper name of the association is "The International
Association of Lions Clubs." Many Lions, however, prefer the use
of the shorter form of "Lions Clubs International."
Throughout the world, Lions are recognized
by the emblem they wear on their lapels. It consists of a gold
letter "L" on a circular purple field. Bordering this is a
circular gold area with two lion profiles at either side facing
away from the center. The word "Lions" appears at the top, and
"International" at the bottom. Symbolically, the lions face both
past and future -- proud of the past and confident of the
future. Lions wear their emblem with pride.
The motto of every Lion is simply "We
Serve". What better way to express the true mission of Lionism?
The slogan of the association is "Liberty,
Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety (LIONS).
The royal colors of purple and gold were selected as the
official colors when the association was organized in 1917.
Purple stands for loyalty to friends and to one's self, and for
integrity of mind and heart. Gold symbolizes sincerity of
purpose, liberality in judgment, purity in life and generosity
in mind, heart and purpose toward humanity