A Freemason, everyone knows a Mason, my great grandfather was a Mason. Being a Mason is not a secret, what it takes to become a Mason is somewhat of a secret. I am not going to get into all the religious and political debates about the Freemason’s. I am only using them as an example of a club, a fraternity of men of any race or religion, that have certain requirements to become a member of their group. A fraternity or sorority, usually groups on a college campus, that require certain criteria to become a member. You are a “pledge,” you do whatever an existing brother or sister tells you to do for a period of time, you pass all the tests and then you are a member for life. Like the Freemason you will have a bond, a brother, or sisterhood to look after you and help protect you for as long as you are alive. The United States Special Forces, The Seals, Rangers, Green Berets, Delta Forces, 82nd Airborne. I am sure I missed a few so please forgive me if I did not list a specific unit. All are elite, all require special, rigorous, physically challenging training and sacrifice. All take a certain type of person or personality to be a member of these special forces for our country. When they place that pin, that represents their respected unit, on their chest they are a member of a brotherhood that will watch their six for life. God bless them all for what they do. Athletes spend years training, practicing, sacrificing for the one goal, to be the best. To be at the absolute top of their game, to be number one. Athletes train for one reason, to win. They sacrifice for one reason, to win. When they win, they win as a team, they are called a winning club. It does not matter if it is a team or individual sport there are always others members in the background, a club, supporting the athlete for success. AARP, a club for anyone age 50 or over. That’s it you just have to be fifty years old to join. This club gives you discounts, insurance, and several other benefits. Now to remain a member you must pay your dues on time. The Black Panthers and Klu Klux Klan, very racially divided clubs. Obviously the race of the member told what club or group they were in. What other requirements were involved I do not know and do not care to know. I am only using these two groups to show how race can determine the membership to a club. The country club, bike club, tennis club, car club, the list can go on forever for the amount and the different types of clubs there are in this world.
To gain memberships to every club or team I have mentioned above there are certain agenda’s, ceremonies or requirements that have to be met. There are tests that have to be passed, whether they be mental or physical. Some are gender, race, age or religion specific. My club has none of these. My club has only one requirement. My club does not discriminate. It does not matter how old you are, it does not matter what race you are, it does not matter where you are from, it does not matter what your financial situation is, it does not matter what religion you practice, it does not matter what your marital status is. There are no temple rituals, there are no pledge weeks, there are no classes, there is no training, there is no manual, or how to book, on becoming a member of my club. There is no preparation required, there is no tryouts, there is no spring training, there is no week long camps. You can become a member in a split second, the blink of an eye, or it could take many painful drawn out years. There is sacrifice, there is pain, there is sadness and there is regret. Each member feels as if there is no team, no club, no brotherhood, each of our members feel alone. There is loneliness and there is depression. There is no book, no guide or no chart that can tell you what to expect when you become a member. There are no guidelines to get you from day to day, week to week, month to month, or year to year. There are dues, dues that can never be recovered. Dues are paid once, or in some cases multiple times, but when they are paid it is the ultimate sacrifice for membership. You would be amazed at how many members there are, your neighbors, your childhood friends, your co-workers, your landscaper, your cable guy, your high school teacher, that lady or gentleman sitting at the next table while you are eating dinner. We don’t have rings, special pins, uniforms, T-shirts or jerseys to wear to let everyone know what club we are in or what team we are on. We don’t have a logo or a team mascot, we don’t need them. You will recognize our club members by seeing the empty chair at a holiday dinner table, the weekly trip to the cemetery, the room that is still the same as it was that day, the box that is filled with special memories, the photos of a child that never gets any older, but the one true give away is that huge hole in our hearts. I never dreamed of, applied for, tried out for, or asked to be in this club, and I would not wish its membership on anyone. I pray everyday that no other parent has to pay the ultimate dues to become a member of my club.