“We are patriots, each willing to serve his country with fidelity and courage. We cherish independence under law and freedom with responsibility.” – from The Shriners Creed
One way many Shriners choose to express their love of country is through membership in the International Association Legions of Honor (IALOH). Units of the IALOH lead our Shriners parades and post the colors at meetings and events.
And, in November, as we observe Veterans Day and honor those who serve and have served in our military, the role of the IALOH becomes even more prominent and significant. For 36 consecutive years, the IALOH has been leading a remembrance observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, to honor the countless soldiers who have fought and died to protect our precious freedoms and our way of life. The ceremony is also a reminder to remember, honor and thank those who continue to work today to protect us – especially those stationed in dangerous places, far from home and loved ones.
On November 10, Imperial Sir Jim Cain, accompanied by Ray Combs, International Commander of the IALOH; John Smith, Chief of Staff of the Association and Patricia Combs, retired veteran of the U.S. Air Force, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, honoring all those who have given their lives in service to their country. Next, they proceeded to the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice, and paid their respects to fallen Americans who served in the Canadian Armed Forces, leaving a poppy, a traditional symbol of remembrance.
“Participating is an honor,” said Combs. “It is the duty and obligation of every one of us to pay our respects.”
The wreath laying was deeply moving and memorable for everyone involved.
“Being at Arlington to honor those who sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to enjoy our freedoms – which we often take for granted – was a humbling experience that will stay with me forever,” said Imperial Sir Jim Cain. “I want to thank the International Association Legion of Honor for their commitment and dedication to this important ceremony year after year.”
In June, the IALOH, and the Imperial Potentate, will also participate in a similar wreath laying at the Tomb of the Canadian Unknown Soldier at the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada. Both ceremonies are meant to perpetuate the memories of those who have died in service to their country.
Quick facts about the International Association Legions of Honor:
- Approximately 9,000 members
- Nearly 150 units
- Units are located in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines and Germany
- The Association has included veterans of every U.S military conflict since the Civil War
Some thoughts on military service from our leaders
“During the Vietnam era, I chose to join the Marine Corps – in my mind they were the best of the best – and I’ve never had a regret. The education I got while a Marine was as important as anything I learned in school. November 10 is the Marine Corps’ birthday, Lisa’s and my anniversary and the day before the official Veterans Day – it’s a very important day in my life and the life of our country.” – Jerry G. Gantt, chairman of the board of trustees, Shriners Hospitals for Children
“I grew up in the Navy, having joined at age 18, and spending 26 years in service. So it truly made me who I am today. Serving my country was such an honor and I'm humbled by the opportunity it gave me to see the world, other cultures and countries. I am honored that I had the opportunity to serve my country and protect our freedoms. I loved my time in the Navy – it also gave me experience with leadership. Learning from some of the greatest leaders in the country gave me the opportunity to grow as a leader. Spending time as a Senior Enlisted and as a Commissioned Officer both gave me experience in numerous environments. It was an experience of a lifetime and I still miss it every day.” – James E. “Ed” Stolze Jr., member, Shriners International Imperial Divan