Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E)
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, The Elks, was founded by Charles A. Vivian in 1868 originally as a social club in New York City. Today the Elks is headquartered at the Elks National Veterans Memorial in Chicago, Illinois. The Elks is a leading fraternal order in the U.S.
The Elks were the first to recognize and celebrate a day for our American Flag. For many years the Elks tried to get the United States government to proclaim a day just for our American Flag. It took another Elk, President Harry S. Truman, to set June 14th as our national Flag Day.
The Elks has 3 Levels. The national or 'grand' level, the state level and the local lodge. The local lodges are known by their lodge number and the name of the city they are located in. NYC is Lodge #1. The Natick, Massachusetts Lodge is #1425.
National Charity Programs: Elks Lodges are encouraged to participate in the national Elks charity programs. There are also state Elks Associations charity programs.
Elks National Foundation (ENF): Established in 1928 as the charitable arm of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America. The foundation is a public, non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) corporation. Donations to the Elks National Foundation are deductible for federal income and estate tax purposes. The mission of the ENF is to help Elks build stronger communities. We fulfill this pledge by investing in communities were Elks live and work; honor the Elks pledge to never forget our veterans; help the state Elks associations accomplish their charitable objectives and fund projects that improve the quality of life in local Elks communities. The ENF endowment fund has contributed to over $400 million of Elks' charitable projects nationwide.
Veteran Services: The Elks Pledge that "So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them". Programs include: Elks Veterans Memorial in Chicago, The Army of Hope serving families of deployed service members, Adopt-A-Veteran Program, Freedom Grants and Veterans Remembrance. Local Lodges such as The Natick Elks gives to Fisher House, a network of comfort homes where military and veterans families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving medical treatment.
Youth & Community Programs: Local charity programs include ENF Scholarships, hoop and soccer shoots, junior golf programs, drug awareness and youth recognition programs.
Americanism: Elks show devotion to the United States of America by conducting bond drives, promoting civil defense programs, participating in community holiday parades and Flag Day Observance.
Rituals and Traditions: The Elks have borrowed a number of rituals, traditions and regalia from the Freemasons. Some rituals stem from early theatrics and religious ceremony. Lodge meetings are performed in front of an alter with a Bible upon it. A Chaplain leads opening and closing Lodge meeting prayers. An American Pledge of Allegiance is recited at each meeting. New member initiations include 'solemn and binding obligations' to never 'reveal any of the confidential matters of the Order', to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to protect brother Elks and their families, and never bring political or sectarian questions up into the Order. The funeral rite is called the "Lodge of Sorrow" and includes prayers for lost members.
Fraternal Brothers & Sisters: As an Elk, you have literally millions of Fraternal Brothers and Sisters across the United States. As an up to date Elk member, you are welcome in every Elk Lodge!
11 O'Clock Toast to the Absent: The hour of 11 has a special significance to Elks. Wherever Elks may roam, whatever their lot in life may be, when this hour tolls upon the dial of night, the great heart Elkdom swells and throbs. It is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic toll call of those who will come no more. Living or dead, an Elk is never forgotten, never forsaken. Morning and noon may pass him by, the light of day sink heedlessly in the west, but ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory will be pealing forth the friendly message: --- A Toast to Our Absent Members!