The Moose was founded by Dr. John Henry Wilson and a group of his friends in 1888 in Louisville, Kentucky, as a social and drinking club to rival the Elks. While it remains essentially an American club, it changed its name to Moose International in 1991. The basic unit is the Lodge, which follows the pattern established by Masons: the Moose have club room or rooms, plus a Lodge room with an altar. The Moose confer an initiatory degree, and after six months membership, the member becomes eligible for the second degree, Moose Legion. A third degree or Fellowship Degree is awarded for service to the fraternity. The fourth and highest degree, that of Pilgrim, is honorific and is awarded to few Moose. The Moose make community service a strong component of their activities.
In 1989, the Loyal Order of Moose, under the direction of Moose Director General Paul J. O’Hollaren, changed the official regalia of the Moose Fraternity. Gone were the ceremonial robes, collars and distinctive tasselled headgear called “Tah.” The Order used colors to reflect the hierarchical achievements of its members: those who reached the level of Pilgrim Degree of Merit were distinguished by gold blazers with insignia patch, lapel pin, black gabardine trousers and striped necktie; blue jackets adorned those at the Fellowship Degree, with lapel pin and striped tie; and maroon, with lapel pin and striped necktie for those ranked as Moose Legionnaires.
These members, of the Loyal Order of Moose and the Women of the Moose, over 1.8 million members strong (2003), make up the two components of the fraternal organization known as Moose International. Their membership is held in any one of 2,100 Lodges and 1,600 Chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Bermuda.
Moose International headquarters is approximately 38 miles west of Chicago at Mooseheart, Illinois. Men’s Lodges and the Ladies Chapters across the fraternity contribute to Moose-sponsored programs such as Mooseheart, the 1,200 – acre Illinois home and school for children in need. Moosehaven, a retirement home for Moose and their wives, was founded in 1922 on the banks of the Saint John’s River at Orange Park, 14 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida. There are more than 30 buildings on about 60 acres of land, with more than a third of a mile of river frontage. “Every resident whose physical condition will permit is assigned to some daily duty usually not to exceed three hours,” and everyone receives a monthly allowance. Those no longer able to work are called “Sunshiners.” Their job is to sit in rocking chairs in the sun, and smile at passers-by. There is a well-equipped 150 bed hospital, in addition to many other facilities.
Aside from Mooseheart and Moosehaven, Moose Lodges also support a number of health oriented charities, such as the March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy, Heart Fund, Cancer Crusade, Cerebral Palsy, and much more. Many Lodges are also active in highway safety, Boys and Girl Scouting, civil defense cooperation and local community activities of all kinds.
Last updated: November 24, 2012 at 13:41 pm
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