It is my honor and pleasure to send warm greetings to each of you on this January 10th, the 109th birthday of our great Fraternity. Today we celebrate not merely the formation of an organization to which we belong, but more significantly, the development of the moral code by which the men of Tau Kappa Epsilon live their lives.
During my visits to various Chapters and Colonies of TKE, I have seen definitive performance superiority in those groups who truly understand the differences between TKE and our noble peers in the Greek community.
We are not "one of the group" and most certainly not like the other Greek letter organizations with whom we compete. Our Founders were cut from a different cloth than most of their college peers. When I visit TKE groups, I continue to see men who are successful and different than many of their fellow students on campus. They are accomplished men who continue to maintain a sense of humility and humanity that sets them apart from their fellow undergrads.
Like the five men who preceded them one hundred and nine years ago, they are men who regard their fellows not for wealth, rank or honor but for their personal worth and character. This is not to say that we disdain wealth. To the contrary, we celebrate and support the success of our Fraters in whatever laudable endeavors they choose to pursue, and admire the honors which they attain by personal effort. We do not, however, cast aside those worthy and desirous of joining our Bond due to lack of social standing, wealth, or based on their ethnicity, religion or nationality. Fraters, this may sound reasonable and commonplace today, but it was a revolutionary concept in the Greek world of 1899.
I'm proud of TKE for a multitude of reasons. But the greatest of these attributes is the fact that while every one of our major competitors had to alter their policies in the last 40 years to facilitate the essence of true fraternity, the admission of men based upon their virtues and not based upon criteria over which they have had no influence, TKE did nothing. We didn't need to. We had never had a policy of such discrimination. This is unique to us and gives absolute proof of our Fraternity's unwavering core values.
We were founded upon solid principles which remain as true today as they were 109 years ago at our founding, and 100 years ago when these core values were reduced in writing to that magnificent document, the much-copied "Declaration of Principles".
As we progress through the dawn of our second century, we continue to live by this inspired prose. I challenge each of you as current and future leaders of our Fraternity to do as I've been wisely counseled to do by my esteemed predecessors. They told me, that when in doubt about a decision on the direction of our magnificent Bond, to re-read the "Declaration of Principles". I have often done this to hone my life skills, in addition to my Fraternity leadership skills by doing so.
It is a pleasure to serve each of you. I am humbled by your trust in me. Of course, the greatest honor ever bestowed upon me occurred over thirty years ago when I was admitted to the Bond of our Fraternity. It's a unique distinction and I consider it the pinnacle of my life's achievements to be, like each of you, a Frater in the Bond of Tau Kappa Epsilon.
Happy Birthday Fraters.
Mark K. Johnson