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Making a Mark

Past International President Aubrey Green, who served from 1963-64, and his wife pose in front of a welcoming Lions statue at La Guaira Airport in Venezuela in 1963.

Past International President Aubrey Green, who served from 1963-64, and his wife pose in front of a welcoming Lions statue at La Guaira Airport in Venezuela in 1963.

Making a Mark

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Touchstone Story #44 

The earliest civilizations left behind clues that revealed what mattered to them, in the form of artifacts or buildings that have stood the test of time: pyramids rising from desert sands, or stone monoliths in grassy English fields.

Often, the first thing people see when visiting a community is the familiar Lions Clubs International logo. The logo represents a promise of service and a commitment to community. It is perhaps the most familiar marker associated with Lions Clubs International, but it is far from the only one.

Lions Clubs Friendship Arches, designed by Past International Directors Howard Grimm and Vern France, are monuments to friendship between neighboring nations. Made of stone and built to last, the first Friendship Arch was erected in 1966 on the U.S.-Canada border by the Abbotsford Lions Club of British Columbia, Canada and the Sumas Lions Club of Washington.

Many Friendship Arches were erected in the 1960s as symbols of peace and hope in the midst of the Cold War. In 1967, a Friendship Arch was sent overseas and placed on the border between Germany and Belgium. The dedication was attended by Lions from Germany, Belgium and the United States. Dr. Albert Soenen of the Sint-Truiden Lions Club in Belgium, remarked that Sint-Truiden itself was a crossroads for Europe, and that the Friendship Arch was “at the crossing point from London to Vienna, and from Paris to Bonn, uniting four Western European nations—England, France, Belgium and Germany. Perhaps the time has come for Lions to consider placing arches in places where ‘Bridges of Friendship,’ and the conversations that they inspire, are so sorely needed.”

Lions also erect memorials to those among their ranks. When Ray Evans, a member of the Shawnee Lions Club of Oklahoma, was killed by a hitchhiker in 1936, the Lions erected a simple roadside stone monument in his honor. In 1963, to honor the memory of all those who had gone before, Lions from 38 clubs in Rhode Island worked together to raise funds for a stone statue of to honor Rhode Island’s deceased Lions. Lions Clubs International founder Melvin Jones is memorialized both at his place of birth—an official historic site in Fort Thomas, Arizona—and for his service to others, with a display of memorabilia at the Lions Clubs International headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Driving into town and being greeted by a familiar leonine face on a sign, or strolling past a stone arch dedicated to friendship across international boundary lines  sends a signal of comfort and service to all who see them.

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