by J. Fanning O’Reilly
The Fraternal Order of Eagles is an international fraternal organization that was founded on February 6, 1898 in Seattle, Washington by a group of six theater owners. It was initially composed of those who worked within the performing arts. The first meetings were typically social gatherings held on theater stages. As the organization grew, they began to seek out positive changes to make in society. They are considered to be the driving force behind Social Security and Mother’s Day. Members also began to create a unique identity, such calling their lodges “aeries” and adopting the bald eagle as their emblem. Unfortunately, racism was also ingrained in the organization. To become a member, an applicant had to be 21 years old, of good character, not a Communist and be of Caucasian background. The requirement to be white was removed by the late 1970s, but it remained very difficult for minorities to become members.