Is it Memorial Day weekend again already?
To me, it feels like it was just a few months ago. Like it was just yesterday that we went from being a family of three to a family of two. Or like it was just recently that we went from celebrating Memorial Day with BBQs and sleeping in to taking time out to not only consider our fallen loved one but all those who have served and sacrificed in this way.
And there are so many...
Surprisingly, though there are so many who still wish others a "Happy Memorial Day" or are quick to laud the celebration of an additional day off (for most folks, because lots of people still have to work), as if that is the most important thing to be considered. And until August 2005, our family was the same way.
I hope you don't understand what it's like because if you do, it means you have experienced the death of a spouse or child in service to our country. It's heart-wrenching. The loss itself is devastating, but it is not really yours alone. You have to share the loss of your loved one with so many others, many who were brave and served alongside, some who were there when he or she was injured or killed, and those who are also learning to live life differently with a gaping hole in their hearts.
I'm so grateful to God for this newer (more healed) perspective that has taken quite some time and respect to come to. Memorial Day is no longer a day when I want to hide away crying, asking questions that will never be answered. It is also no longer a day when I get angry seeing people's posts about all of the fun that they're having. Truly. Every day that you have to be with friends and family should be treasured.
I say, have all the fun. Eat all the BBQ. Laugh with your friends. Take that extra-long nap. Squeeze in as much living as you can while practicing these three things this Memorial Day weekend.
- Take time out from the festivities to observe the purpose of the day. This doesn't even have to be on Memorial Day itself, but sometime over the weekend, set aside some time to actively remember those who served in our armed forces and paid the "ultimate price" for your blessing of liberty. The Memorial Day Foundation does a great job of explaining the things you can do but also why you would do them. Since our move from Wisconsin where my husband is buried, we have been eager to find ways in our new community here in north Texas to connect with others to actively observe Memorial Day. Thankfully, we've connected with people who know of our loss and last year invited us to participate in the Carry the Load event ending in Dallas. Yes, I'll have a small pack of tissues on me as we walk and yes, there'll be tears, but I believe it will be good because we'll be doing it together.
- Refrain from wishing people a happy Memorial Day. It's not a "happy" day. As painful as it sometimes is to be reminded of a death in the armed services, we're grateful for be a day when people set aside moments to reflect together on their willingness to serve and sacrifice in military service. And though many of the memorial activities are somber and serious, we hope people take the time out to remember them ... with us. Let us tell the stories—which may make you laugh. Let us tell you the memories—which may make you cry. Call us, text us, invite us to spend time with you doing nothing. Please don't make us feel like pariahs or like we're too fragile to open up and share our hearts with you. We want to. Don't be afraid of our sadness on this day. Please don't be fearful of our pain. It's not a happy time, but there can still be good parts to the day.
- Save thanking veterans for Veterans Day. I'll admit, I don't even know what to say to the Marines who served with our guy when Veterans Day comes around. I've read and heard about how weird it is when people thank them for their service. But even more awkward is when someone thanks living veterans for their service on a day set aside for those who died while doing what they also did ... but survived. Instead, consider the pearls of wisdom in this article and take some time this Memorial Day to plan how you might be able to be supportive of veterans and their needs throughout the entire year.
Whatever you decide to do, take some time to reflect on Memorial Day, the experiences of those who are still learning to live without their loved ones every day, and the people who answered "yes" to the call with all they had to give.
Throughout 2017, Kappa Alpha Theta is celebrating the Year of Scholarship.
We're recognizing the commitment to academic excellence that began with our founders and continues today, as well as honoring Thetas who are dedicated to learning, growing, and being a part of something larger than themselves.
The Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC) strives to enhance opportunities for intellectual growth by providing our college members with study environments that foster creativity and critical thinking. We understand the importance of comfortable—yet stylish—study spaces!
- Comfortable study space that includes plush chairs and plenty of lighting.
- Connected with up-to-date technology. Our lighting includes fixtures that turn on just by tapping the exterior portion of the light along with two plugs to provide convenient electricity.
- Furniture that invites collaboration. Tables are easily adjustable to set at different heights and chairs move throughout the room easily.
Students in today's world are constantly connected and collaborating because both individual and group study is crucial to scholastic success. From convenient ways to charge laptops, phones, and tablets to plenty of lighting for studying late into the night, the FHC is prepared to meet our college students' needs.
From the smiling face of New Orleans restaurateur Ti Martin on our cover to updates on our newest college chapters to news of our 2016 outstanding professors, the current issue of the Theta magazine celebrates vision and dedication.
It also announces 2017 as the Year of Celebrating Scholarship. In addition to pushing boundaries when they created Kappa Alpha Theta, our founders pushed boundaries in their personal and professional lives. As we near our sesquicentennial in 2020, we are dedicating a year to each founder and commemorating a Theta core value that she represents.
Alice Allen Brant, for example, became a high school principal and espoused an innovative educational philosophy. It is in her honor that 2017 will celebrate Theta's commitment to academic excellence as well as all our sisters who exemplify learning, growing, and being a part of something larger than themselves.
We hope you are enjoying all the stories in the Winter 2017 issue. If you don't receive all four quarterly issues or if print simply isn't your thing, you can access the past 10 years of the Theta magazine online.
Today is the start of Ritual Celebration Week, a time for Thetas to consider not only how our ritual services reflect our Fraternity values and vision but also how they offer guidance to further develop our Theta membership.
Many of us who have served as president of Kappa Alpha Theta can talk of challenging moments. Norma Jorgensen, who was our leader from 1968 to 1972, experienced more than a few challenging moments; in fact, she guided Theta through a challenging era. At the same time we were preparing to celebrate Theta's centennial, Norma was fighting for the Fraternity's very survival.
Because sororities had been in existence for more than 100 years, one might think we would have been an integral part of the fabric of higher education by the 1970s. Remember, though, that this was a tumultuous time. Colleges and universities were the site of protests, and sororities were seen as part of the "establishment." Chapters were closing, and many—both inside and outside our membership—questioned if we could keep going.
I knew Norma in her later years and deeply respected her stature in Theta history. She was known to be a good listener who saw all sides fairly. She traveled all over the US and Canada, listening to our collegians and alumnae, trying to save as many chapters as she could. From these experiences, she developed the idea that everyone should enter Theta fully aware of the expectations of membership. Accordingly, she wrote the Loyalty Service in 1970; it was the first piece of ritual to be written since the early 1900s. It became and remains part of the preparation for initiation.
Our ritual is a reflection of the time in which it is written; yet amazingly it also stands the test of time. While our members no longer must persevere through harsh winters without heat, running water, or electricity, the independence we learned from our earliest leaders bolsters our leading women today. When entering classrooms, we don't experience jeers like Bettie did, but we still rely on our sisters for love and support during difficult times. The protests on today's campuses may not have the same themes as they did in the 1970s, but I have faith in my sisters to represent and understand the forces of change.
Serving as Fraternity ritualist, I am charged with keeping our ritual alive. Every time I participate in an Initiation Service, I talk to our newest members about the impact Theta will have on their lives. I'm bolstered by the continuing relevance of words that were written so long ago. Thinking back on that centennial year, I marvel at how much things have changed, and yet that which we cherish remains the same.
Kappa Alpha Theta is a founding member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and greatly values our relationships with our sister NPC groups. As NPC women, we know how important the sorority experience is, and we advocate for it every day. Our entire sorority experience is shaped by the Panhellenic sisters who stand beside us. Through good times and bad, we are all bonded by the common experience of sorority.
The sorority experience is unlike any other, and we all had different reasons for joining Kappa Alpha Theta. Some of us were legacies trying to follow in our family members' footsteps, some of us were new to the entire experience and some of us were unsure but attended recruitment anyway. Whatever your reasons for joining, your reasons for staying and becoming a leader in your chapter and the Panhellenic community are entirely different. NPC wants to recognize and celebrate these differences.
TheSororityLife.com is a website created by NPC that provides potential new members the "real deal" on sorority life. By submitting a college lifestyle profile, you will be able to showcase your sorority experience while also having an impact on future sorority women. The profile is easy to fill out and doesn't take longer than 10 minutes. This is a great way to promote Theta on an international scale.
So what are you waiting for? Inspire young women today by filling out the "My College Lifestyle" profile on TheSororityLife.com. At the end of the profile application, feel free to take a few minutes to share your story on video.
Scholarship has always been a central tenant for the members of Kappa Alpha Theta, and indeed is one of our core values. Our founders came together, in part, as a mutual support system in an incredibly arduous environment. They encouraged one another in academic pursuits and challenged one another and all future members to achieve their personal best in the classroom.
Even more than a half-century after our founding, Bettie Locke Hamilton was still stressing the importance of scholarship. In a letter sent to the Alpha Psi Chapter at Lawrence in 1926, Bettie shared a message that has been a "North Star" for Thetas over many generations "...and try above all things to keep up a high standard of Scholarship - nothing will elevate K.A.O. like wonderful Scholarship!"
How true her words were then, and they remain so today! Kappa Alpha Theta chapters enjoy remarkable success with more than one-quarter of our college chapters achieving the number-one ranking on their campus in terms of grades and more than three-quarters of our college chapters being above the all-sorority average (ASA) on their campuses. Of course, there are also many members who have been recognized for their remarkable individual achievement over the last 147 years.
Against the backdrop of our founding, many other Greek-letter organizations for women were also starting and spreading across the nation. In 1902, seven groups organized to form the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). From 1903-1951, even more Greek-letter organizations for women joined NPC, eventually totaling 26.
The Panhellenic Creed, which each member group supports, states: "We the undergraduate members of women's fraternities, stand for good scholarship, for guarding of good health, for maintenance of fine standards, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community."
A commitment to academic excellence for members of Kappa Alpha Theta and the other NPC groups results in success for individual members and their chapters. This, in turn, encourages all women to reach their potential both inside and outside the classroom. Intellectual development includes all cultural, practical, recreational, political and social aspects of life and is echoed in Theta's mission of offering lifelong opportunities for intellectual growth.
Please join me in celebrating the Year of Scholarship. I'm proud that Thetas are leading women in this area and have been since 1870.
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