What is a Shriner?
Someone may answer:
"Oh yeah, Shriners are those guys who always have those parades with the wild costumes, wearing funny hats like flowerpots and have those big conventions." Another may think of Shrine circuses and Shrine clowns.
"I don't know about that," a passerby may add. "But I do know my little girl was born with club feet and now they are straight, and she can walk like anyone else, thanks to Shriners Hospital for Children."
"She can walk?" questions still another. "I thought the Shriners ran those fantastic burn hospitals. I've read stories about them saving kids with burns on 90 percent of their bodies."
All those people are right. Each has experienced and aspect of the Shrinedom. What they cannot experience, unless they are Shriners, is the camaraderie, deep friendship, good fellowship and great times shared by all Shriners. What they may not know is that all Shriners share a Masonic heritage and adhere to the principles of Freemasonry - Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Thirteen Masons organized the first Shrine Temple in 1872. That first Temple was named Mecca and was in New York City. They knew they needed on appealing theme for their new order, so they chose the Arabic (Near East) theme. The most noticeable symbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive fez that all Shriners wear at official functions.
There are approximately 250,000 Shriners now. There are 196 Temples throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, Philippines, Europe, and Brazil. There are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children, 18 orthopaedic hospitals, three burn hospitals and one hospital that provides orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care. These hospitals have cured or substantially helped more than one million children regardless of the ability to pay, since the first Shriners Hospital opened in 1922.