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Department Commander's Monthly Letters

October 2000

The Constant Tide of Change

This past year at General Military Council has been a real learning experience. Each time I attend I keep learning things that I wish had known before. But that is what change keeps doing to me, it makes me go out and learn what is going in the world around me.

For example, at the seesions, I had the privilege of serving on the committee to prepare legislation to SGL. I had remembered from past years that committee had light duty work and just prepared a few bills for SGL. Well, things change; I didn't realize that I would be sitting in a position to drafting and issue that may leave an impression on our Order for years to come.

There is a bill pending for next year at SGL sessions to require women who receive the Decoration of Chivalry to own and wear a full dress LAPM uniform. What do you as memebrs think of that? At first glance I thought it was quite bold and ambitious, however after pondering for a moment, there is now open membership in the LAPM. Therefore, the need to confer a Decoration of Chivalry upon a Rebekah sister is no longer a necessity. So a decision was made that we change this.

At a recent seminar at work I was educated about the critical factors that help people handle change. The major principles of person who best handled change could be summed up as follows:

1. Confidence - A person who deals with and manages change, has the self-confidence and self-esteem to not feel threatened or personally attacked by changing events.

2. Challenge - A person who has self-confidence established, then can go out and seek new challenges (changes) to undertake.

3. Counter Balance - While contemplating the challenge (change) at hand, the individual has other activities within their life to help them deal with stress. When a person's life becomes one-dimensional and focused on their work only, they begin to break down physically, mentally, and socially.

4. Creativity - Through outside interests, the individual finds new methods of thinking such that new solutions present themselves. These answers originally have no correlation to the challenge (change) at hand, but after reflection, begin to make more sense.

5. Conquest - The individual after having found a solution to the challenge (change), then has closure to the event. They have been able to accept the new condition and the success that it brings. The individual then returns to the state expressed in 1. above.

So my brothers/sisters, patriarchs/matriarchs, and chevaliers/ladies, I urge each of you to prepare yourself for the coming future. It can be a frightening time, but it will also be an exciting time.

November 2000

A Salute To Veterans During The Month Of November

Dear Chevaliers and Ladies,

We celebrate two important holidays during the month of November. The oldest one is Thanksgiving, a time traditionally set aside for family and friends to gather together and watch the Dallas Cowboys or the Detroit Lions - but mainly to look back on the year and be grateful for the many things that we enjoy in life.

The other one, which I feel is overlooked, is Veteran's Day. More than just another day off from school or work, it's a day that we should pause and reflect as well as be thankful for the sons and daughters of this great nation who have or are currently serving under arms. To these people being thankful means something different. It means we. as citizens, showing some appreciation for the great risk they take in defending our freedom and security.

I was recently asked by a colleague I work with if I have ever served our country. Regretfully. I had to answer no. When pressed for a reason, I was without an explanation. I stammered something about being an only child, and terefire not draft eligible or that I wanted to be an officer, but was not selected into the program in college. Feeling that I was being mentally put to the test, a thought dawned. He wanted me to demonstrate to him the importance that some people have in the maintenance of our basic freedom.

I related to him the following story from my life:

While a freshman in college I had some neighbors who were either GI Bill students or ROTC candidates. One man was ordered to re-enlist in the Marines and prepare to go to Kuwait as a tank commander. He was one of the few trained soldiers who could be ready within the short time frame. So the man packed up and left school one week before final exams.

The remaining cadets, midshipmen and I began a campaign to collect fan mail and care packages for this individual. We solicieted postcards and goodies from everyone on the floor. Then we would mail them to him piece by piece so he would receive something different every day. They were just small reminders that he was not forgotten. The man returned home the following summer although he did not return to college. He was appreciative of what we did for him.

After pondering for a few moments, my colleague across the table from me looked straight at me and said, "Well, that's a heck of a lot more than most Americans will do."

This year I ask all of you, if you know just one veteran or many, make it a point to at least say "Thank you" for what they have done to preserve the peace and freedom we enjoy so well. If you own an American flag, proudly display it at your home. Or even better yet, place a homemade sign alongside the road that says, "Thank You Veterans!"

You will have already done more than most Americans do and maybe even have a nicer Thanksgiving, too.

Washington Odd Fellow - December 2000

Nothing Gimmicky Here

During one of my recent travels I was asked to explain my "gimmick" for the year. I was taken aback as I don't believe that I do things that are "gimmicky." However, I have been asked to explain my two rather unusual emblems.

The first one is the International Space Station (ISS) a symbol to me of continuing endeavors. For many people it represents a waste of time of money, in a frivolous pursuit of nothing good. But to those of who believe, hope, and even work on building it, it means a whole lot more. It's the modern wonder of the world that demonstrates what is possible when 16 nations, some of whom used to be enemies, lay down their arms and work to build a new future together. I believe that we as Odd Fellows have an Encampment Degree that extols this same virtue. The ISS is also one step in NASA's goal to send people to Mars in the year 2015. The medical research conducted on the ISS alone will benefit all of humanity.

The second emblem, or my "fun" emblem, is the dragon. Now there are all kinds of reasons that I have picked this one to be my fun emblem. First the year 2000 when I assumed this office is the Chinese year of the Dragon, so it fits in nicely. However, to the Chinese the dragon is the symbol of both love and wisdom. Sun Tzu, the master general, had the symbol of a dragon above the gates to his academy. It served as a quiet reminder to his students, that the highest form of wisdom is the ability to resolve conflict without the need to take up arms. As Patriarchs Militant members we have the motto Pax aux Bellum (Peace or War). Itís scholastic translation from Latin means, ďIn peace prepare for war."

As Odd Fellows we have the emblems of Bow, Arrows, and the Quiver. In older publications of our order they all displayed together with the arrows bound in the quiver. This demonstrates the same principle of Pax aux Bellum as the arrows, or bow, are not drawn in a hostile and threatening manner.

Lastly, the dragon has also been a mythical and fantastical representation of the world around us. They symbolize in literature the body of knowledge that exists outside us and is waiting to be discovered.

However there have been two different representations of dragons, evil and good. The evil dragons portrayed in literature spread hatred, discord, and strife. They require people to make continuing sacrifices and give them tributes to just placate them. Good dragons have been portrayed as living in far off locales, and a person has to seek them out. The knowledge and virtues that good dragons embody grant rewards to those who make this pilgrimage. Once rewarded, the benefits to the individual remain so long as they continue to learn.

The dragonís message to me is that it takes a lot more energy to hate instead of love someone.

Iíd like to wish each of you peace and happiness as you enjoy whichever celebration to mark the end of the year.

Brig. Gen. Allan Reitan
Department Commander of Washington

Washington Odd Fellow - January 2001

Signs of Progress

Throughout our lives we see many signs of progress and growth. Some of these are plainly obvious, while others are more sublime. Graduating from High School or even College, getting married, or even a promotion in a career are events that clearly indicate a change in the state of being. For me this became really clear when during the course of my job, I became certified as a product specialist by Microsoft, and Cisco. The step I reached was not the end of a journey, but was a sign along the road that I was making progress in the development of career.

This month the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs in the state of Washington welcome some new members to the ranks of Past Grand and Past Noble Grand. Many times people think that "I have done my time and now it's time to rest." However, what we have really done is just taken our first step in the continuing journey of our Fraternity, whereby we are challenged to reach for new goals, take up leadership challenges, and learn more about the ritual of our Order. This point is summarized in the installation ceremony, when we remind the Noble Grands, that.."You are entering upon a potential field of endeavor...", and "we urge you to take this next step in our fraternity."

To all of our recent Past Grands and Past Noble Grands I congratulate you. If you are a freshman to this rank then welcome, and may you continue your progress in leadership and understanding within our order. I invite you to seek out new opportunities within the other branches of our order: The Encampment, and the Patriarchs Militant.

Brig. Gen. Allan Reitan
Department Commander