Message to the 1925
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Message to the 1926
To friends assembled in convention of Rotary International at Denver, greetings.

Rotary attained its majority, February 23, 1926; hence, this is the first convention since Rotary came of age.

Is Rotary coming or going? Is it morning or evening?

Men come and go, empires rise and fall, civilizations attain heights, for brief moments illuminating the night, then like spent rockets fall dead to earth again.

Does this thing which we call Rotary bear a charmed life, or, will it also, in the natural course of events, live, grow, flourish and prosper, then sicken, become aged, senile, palsied and finally die?

Twenty‑one years ago, the handful of men who attended the first Rotary club meeting were all that there was of Rotary. As we measure things now, they were pitifully few, too few, in fact, to make a respectable committee for the organization of a new club in a small town.

On that night, February 23, 1905, scores of larger and more impressive meetings were being held throughout the city of Chicago. Numbers have little significance and so has mere size. The acorn is not impressive but it has a wondrous story of magic growth and strength locked within its modest shell.

The scores of meetings which were held within the city of Chicago that night adjourned, leaving little of special interest for history to record.

The meeting of the four also adjourned but the movement so humbly begun, has lived on; a generation has wondered at its growth; it, like the acorn, had a wondrous story within a story which men have loved to tell.

Is Rotary coming or going? Is it morning or evening? We will admit that we like best the early morning hours when nature is fresh and when we have all the day before us. We hope that the songs we hear are matin, not vesper songs.

We would like to feel that Rotary for which we have toiled and sacrificed has its best hours to look forward to, its best hours still to live, for there is an abundance of work to be done and the workers are none too many.

Is Rotary coming or going; is it morning or evening?

Rotary cannot go until its destiny shall have been fulfilled. Its destiny will not be fulfilled until Rotary shall have been established in every country of the civilized world and until men shall be content to dwell together in peace.

Thirty‑five nations have unfurled the banner of Rotary but there are others needing our ministrations. An extension drive more vigorous and more intensive than any ever made before must follow.

President Don Adams with painstaking, self‑sacrificing, unostentatious work has paved the way and it will be our privilege in company with his successor to go forward.

A drive must now be made on nations other than English speaking nations. Until progress shall have been made in other countries comparable with the progress already made in Anglo‑Saxon countries, we shall not be, in the highest sense of the word, international.

It is natural to desire to grow, as natural as it is to desire to live; but, in the case of Rotary, the magnitude of its undertakings make growth more than desirable, it makes it necessary. Hasten the day when there shall be as many Rotary clubs on the continent of Europe as there are now in North America, as many in South America as there are now in Great Britain.

Twenty‑one years is a long time in the life of an individual, a brief time in the life of a great movement. For every year of Rotary there has been practically a century of the Christian era, and, yet, Rotary has already made its influence felt all around the world.

My friends assembled in the Denver convention, seriously, earnestly I bear testimony that Rotary is coming, not going; that this is the glad morning, not the sad evening of Rotary. Let us keep our hearts strong, enthusiasm fresh, hope high. As long as we keep imbued with this spirit, Rotary can never die.

Sincerely,

PAUL P. HARRIS. 


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