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Looking back at the 1917 Atlanta convention

If you are attending the 2017 Rotary International Convention from 10 to 14 June, you should take time to reflect on the historic convention of 1917, also in Atlanta. There, Arch Klumph gave a speech calling for an endowment, a key moment in the origin of The Rotary Foundation.

Most sessions of the 1917 convention were held at the Baptist Tabernacle on Luckie Street. The building, now known simply as the Tabernacle, is just a few blocks from this year’s convention home, the Georgia World Congress Center, so stroll across Centennial Olympic Park to Luckie Street and imagine what the convention was like 100 years ago.

Some of the speakers covered topics that were very much of the moment in 1917 (“The Creation of Public Sentiment to Demand and Construct Public Highways”) while others tackled subjects that would not be out of place today (“The Establishment of Vacant Lot Gardening”). There was a Special Assembly on the “Enlightenment of Non-Rotarians as to Rotary,” a subject of perennial concern.

Returning to Atlanta is an apt way to mark the centennial of The Rotary Foundation. It’s a powerful reminder of how far Rotary has come, and how important our core values and mission remain as we look to the next 100 years. – Hank Sartin

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