Veterans Day: Maintaining the bond of our brotherhood
This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Cross & Crescent Magazine.
I think there is a need for us to improve our attitude towards living as an alumnus of Lambda Chi Alpha. I am guilty of not wanting much to do with the Fraternity since I graduated from college. It was a lot of work. Work that was well worthwhile, but work nonetheless. Graduation is the gate to the next part of all our lives, but that does not mean that it should close us off from everything that we as alumni can offer the fraternity and from what the brotherhood can offer us.
I owe a lot of who I am and my success to the positions I held within the Fraternity, the brothers I worked with that I may have never met, and the shared experiences we had during our time in the fraternity. I know many of you can say the same thing. If you look at it we were a bunch of 18 to 22 year olds trying to run a small business in which we were charged with recruitment, training, maintaining, and financial management. All while working to attain a college degree. The parties, tailgates, formals, cookouts, campouts, road trips and nights hanging out on the porch were all products of the hard work we put into our chapter.
Unfortunately, that is the only side of most fraternities that the general public sees, mostly from movies and television shows written by people who never even went through rush. This bad advertising is what has created the stigma that people think of when they hear that I was a member of a fraternity. It is this stigma that we need to rise against and talk about with pride in our membership in Lambda Chi Alpha well after we leave college. I think the distance from the brotherhood is part of the reason I let people get away with talking down about “frat boys” because the movie version is all they know. My fellow officers in the Army shake their heads whenever I bring up my time in the fraternity, but it is me they come to with a problem that needs a creative solution or to find a way to liven up a social event that has become awkward and stuffy.
This line of thinking all started out by watching how my best friend received help from an alumni chapter of a fraternity that he joined six weeks ago. He was in a bad working environment and receiving a raw deal from his commander. Within three weeks of his initiation the brothers of his chapter worked to get him an interview for a General’s aide job; they arranged the opportunity; he still had to succeed in the interview. This made me think of who could I turn to in such a situation, maybe not for help but at least for some advice on how to handle it. I came up empty. I looked at the Lambda Chi Alpha website and the My Lambda Chi site to see if there was any information on Lambda Chis in my local area (a bit of a stretch since I am stationed in Germany), but it seems that only the biggest cities in the States even have alumni groups.
In my time in the Army I have run across only one fellow soldier who was a Lambda Chi. I think the stigma placed on traditional fraternities such as ours shames us into understating the bond that we all share. We need to work to continue to strengthen the bond with each other, especially as we all navigate life after college.
I think building a stronger network within the mylca.lambdachi.org to where it becomes the place to look up brothers in a particular field or area, will help us to reach out and continue to enjoy the bond of brotherhood we lived in college.
At work I hate it when people point out problems but do nothing about it – until recently I was that guy. Now I am trying to be part of the solution. I have logged into lambdachi.org and volunteered to serve as a mentor to anyone who reaches out. It’s a small start, but it’s about all I think I can do from Germany. If we can make the social site successful, it may lead to the development of alumni chapters or groups that will continue the bond that stems from our amazing ritual. I am also willing to bet there are a lot of smaller groups of brothers out there who still meet up on a regular basis. They are just not formalized and listed on the website. I know the group of guys I was in college with in Birmingham still see each other all the time.