Touchstone Story #4–We Serve

Lions have both a slogan and a motto.

The slogan reflects the organization’s formative years in America during and after World War I. The motto declares its common purpose in two short words.

In the early 1920s, the slogan “Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Safety”—an acronym for the word Lions—appeared widely on club stationary, billboards and other promotional materials. Who said it first? Perhaps it was a young attorney named Halsted Ritter who rose to speak at the 1919 International Convention in Chicago.

“The name Lions stands not only for fraternity, good fellowship, strength of character and purpose,” Ritter declared, “but, above all, the combination of L-I-O-N-S heralds to the country the true meaning of citizenship.”

The words suited the patriotism that swept the U.S. following WWI, and Lions adopted the acronym as its slogan.

As the Lions movement grew across national borders, cultures, and languages, Lions began looking for other words to describe their mission and work. In 1954, the board announced an International Motto Contest and invited suggestions from all 522,000 worldwide members.

According to the entry form, the motto had to be “enduring,” “international in character,” and “easily translatable.” There was also a strict contest rule to discourage wordiness. Lions could submit as many mottoes as they liked, but each entry could be no more than five words in length.

To get Lions thinking, the organizers gave out a few five-word examples: “Men of Action in Action.” “Working with Others for Others.” “Worldwide Service to Humanity.”

Thankfully, 11 of the 6,000 Lion contestants had better ideas. They each submitted identical entries. But Canadian Lion D. A. Stevenson from Font Hill, Ontario, was declared the winner as his submission had the earliest postmark. His motto contained two simple words: “We Serve.”

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!