a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
“members of the hunting fraternity”
synonyms: profession, body of workers; a male students’ society in a university or college.
synonyms: society, club, association; a religious or Masonic society or guild.
the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group.
“the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity”
synonyms: brotherhood, fellowship, kinship, friendship, (mutual) support, solidarity, community, union, togetherness; sisterhood
“a spirit of fraternity”
When we hear the word fraternity we often think of college, parties, and the movie Animal house. And there is certainly something to that. But today I want to talk about fraternity in a few other ways. I was never a member of a college fraternity, but I have been to a frat house or two. But we will leave those stories for another day. In the broader sense of the word fraternity as I show in the definition, a Fraternity is a group of people who share something in common. But to truly define that group there is a bond, something that brought them together for a common purpose or goal. Whether that was to get through college, fight in a war, or be of service to others that bond defines the group and they have an ever lasting kinship because of it.
If you are reading this blog, you more than likely have a bond with me and your fellow readers in Scouting. The Boy Scouts of America created an Alumni Association just for the purpose of rekindling that spirit of fraternity with those people who have for over 100 years been associated with Scouting in America. Through this effort many people have reconnected with Scouting and as a result the fraternity of Scouting grows stronger.
Within Scouting there are fraternal groups. Wood Badge and the Order of the Arrow just to name a few. There is a connection of greater purpose within these groups that take Scouting to a higher level. Within the common bond of Wood Badgers and Arrowmen is greater sense of duty to others, promoting the Scouting movement, and of course fellowship with the membership. It strengthens our ties to Scouting and increases our willingness to make Scouting a lasting part of our lives.
You may also be reading this blog and thinking of other fraternal groups that you belong to that are outside of Scouting. The Elks, Masons, Eagles, and Moose Lodges are all Fraternal groups that share a bond of service and fellowship. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the America Legion are Fraternal organization made up of men and women that share the bond of serving in the Military, some during times of war and others that served waiting to be called. Their bond is thick with the experiences, hardships, and of course friendships made during their service.
Why is this all important?
First, we need fraternal groups because they promote that common bond. With that common bond we tend to want to be a part and share in it for no other reason the fellowship and knowledge that we are a part of something that is like us. In Scouting, in college, in the Service, we shared a bond that is unique to us and we are a part of it. Being a part of something that is greater than us gives us that sense of duty to it.
Second, these fraternal groups are the vanguard of the bond we share. The membership of that organization leads the way in promoting its ideals, activity, and development of its membership. Thus the group continues to grow and last. For example, Scouting. Those that came before me and you have set the course for Scouting for us. The Alumni association and men and women that believe in Scouting continue to make the organization what it is through their dedication continued service to it. Scouting’s membership is the life of the organization, but without the support of the folks behind the scenes, making contributions of time and talent and a lot of treasure, Scouting would soon begin to fade. The organization is bigger than merit badges and camping. It’s fraternal bond is in its ideals, values, and memories of the members.
I belong to a few fraternal organizations. Scouting of course and within Scouting I love my affiliations within the Wood Badge community and the Order of the Arrow. They make me a better Scouter and keep me directed in my desire to serve. In Wood Badge that service comes by teaching fellow adults and promoting the great program of Scouting. The Order of the Arrow fulfills that in me that wants to serve others, demonstrate to fellow Scouts and Scouters the idea of Leading to Serve.
I am also a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This is important to me as I have a bond with those members, especially those that served in my era. This group is all about fraternity in the sense that we belong more to one another than to be of service to others. It is a group of shared experience.
I am a Life member of the National Infantry Association. This group is also one of shared experience, it is the professional association for Infantrymen and Infantry supporters. The NIA, supports the Infantry’s role in the security of our nation; helps Infantrymen build closer affiliations with one another; and helps preserve the Infantry heritage. Our membership promotes the only organization dedicated to supporting the Chief of Infantry and the entire Infantry community. Our membership strength ensures that the Infantry voice will be heard by decision makers. We share the camaraderie of like-minded soldiers and citizens who believe in maintaining the Infantry spirit and recognize those Infantrymen that have made a contribution to our Infantry community.
Now to most of you this is meaningless and I get that, but it is something that is important to me. I share this with you because you belong to something like this. Whether it is with the Optimist Club or the Rotary club, your fraternal organization means something to you.
I am also a member of an unofficial fraternal group made up of soldiers from the last Battalion I served in. We gather periodically (not enough) to share stories, talk about our lives, and share our camaraderie.
We had a gathering yesterday, which prompted me to write this post. Why, because it all matters. In Scouting or a Military fraternity, it is all the same based on our bond of fellowship and shared experience.
Yesterday the Wildcats gathered to celebrate our bond 10 years after we returned from Iraq. The gathering was not limited to those of us that deployed, but in keeping with the fraternal group, any one that had ever served in the 1st Battalion 162nd Infantry. I was pleased to see old friends, soldiers I had served with and led. It was special to meet with an old Battalion Commander. I never served with him, he commanded the Battalion when I was small child, but our bond was being a Wildcat, no matter the era.
I had the honor of serving the Battalion as the Command Sergeant Major before and during our deployment to Iraq. I had been in the Battalion for years prior to that promotion serving in different companies and at many levels. So my bond to the 1/162 Infantry is strong. I love that Battalion.
Our Battalion has a long and rich history and tradition. Established in 1898 as the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry and thrust in action in the Spanish-American war the Battalion was later reconfigured in 1917 as the Army transformed during the First World War. It was re-designated the 162nd Infantry Regiment with 3 Battalions. 1st and 2nd Battalion in Oregon and the 3rd Battalion in Montana. The 162nd Infantry along with the 161st, 163rd, and 186th Infantry made up the Infantry Regiments of the 41st Infantry Division. In the Second World War, the 41st with all of its Regiments served in the Pacific Theater. It fought from 1942 till the end of the war in 1945 in the Pacific.
The Battalion stayed ready for the Korean war but never was called to deploy as was the case in the Vietnam war. It was not until the call came for the Battalion to support Operation Iraqi Freedom that the Battalion once again saw action in 2003. It served from 2003 to 2004 in OIF.
In 2006 the Army once again reorganized and the Battalion Colors were folded and the Regiment disbanded the 1st Battalion.
But through these gatherings we maintain our bond and the spirit of the Wildcat Battalion. It’s rich history is something that we helped write and is something that we hold close in our hearts. Through our fraternal spirit we keep it alive.
Yesterday at the Wildcat reunion the National Infantry Association along with members of the Battalion recognized me and one of the finest soldiers I ever served with the Order of St. Maurice. It is an honor that I will cherish because the group that I was with and the soldier that I had the pleasure of standing with during the ceremony. Our local chapter of the National Infantry Association, specifically MSG Morgan Olsen presented the award. He is a dear friend and a soldier that I had the opportunity to help develop along his career path. More though, he is a dear friend and I am glad that he was the one to not only present the award, but put together the entire event.
He demonstrated everything that is great about this group of men that I have had the privilege to serve with and for.
Our bond, the bond of this fraternity is stronger than life. It is important to me.
You all have some group that you share this type of bond with, if nothing else, you share a bond within Scouting. It need not be in combat or strife, the bonds we share in service and fun are just as strong. What you do with that bond is what is important. How you share that bond and become a stronger part of that group is what is important. It is important to you.
Do not let time pass without reaching out and reconnecting, establishing a stronger bond of fellowship, service, and camaraderie. As I get to know the “old guys” in our VFW post, I have come to understand that for many of them this bond has been recently awakened, they have regret that they had not kept those ties closer in their younger days. I don’t want that regret, and I am sure that you don’t either.
Fraternity. It is an important part of our lives. Strengthen it.
I shared a lot about my military fraternal life today… so I will close this post with the words of a song that I hold very close in my heart. The words of the official song if the Order of the Arrow. It sums up many of my feeling about Fraternity and why I belong.
Firm bound in brotherhood, gather the clan
That cheerful service brings to fellow man.
Circle our council fire, weld tightly every link
That binds us in brotherhood, Wimachtendienk.
Yours in Scouting, WWW
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In the picture: Left is Sergeant Major (Ret) Kevin Stanger and I receiving the Order of St. Maurice.