The Duty of Rotary

One hundred twelve years ago, February 23, 1905, the very first Rotary meeting was held. Paul, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram Shorey gathered at Loehr’s office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago. The anniversary is now known as “World Peace and Understanding Day.” The initial members chose the name “Rotary” because initially they rotated subsequent weekly club meetings to each other’s others places of employment. The Chicago club grew so rapidly that it became necessary to find a common meeting location however, the name, “Rotary” has continued.

The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Seattle. These were cities that Paul Harris had visited and in some cases employed before he began his law practice in Chicago several years later.  

Winnipeg, Canada became the first international club in 1910 soon expanded to Ireland and England. This first non-English speaking Rotary Club was established in Havana, Cuba in 1916. 

“It is the duty of all Rotarians,” as stated in the Manual of Procedure “outside their clubs, to be active as individuals in as many legally constituted groups and organizations as possible to promote not only in words but through exemplary dedication, awareness of the dignity of all people and the respect of the consequent human rights of the individual.”

Marine Corps veterans and historians will also recall that the 23rd of February is the anniversary of another historic event, the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, 1945.

Six Marines, Ira Hayes (an Arizona Pima Indian), Harold Schultz, Michael Strank, Franklin Sousley, Rene Gagnon and Harlon Block were captured on film raising the Stars and Stripes on Mt. Suribachi in a the famous photo by Joe Rosenthal which soon became a national symbol. Rosenthal’s photo is the only photo to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. Strank, Sousley and Block were killed in action soon afterwards. Iwo Jima was not declared secure until 31 days later on March 26th at a cost of 6,821 U.S. servicemen killed in action and over 19,000 wounded.

Royce Moore, President, Rotary Club of Escondido