Does the title sound familiar?  Yes, it was the 2013-2014 Rotary International Theme introduced by now PRIP Sakuji Tanaka - Peace Through Service.  However, I first heard those three words almost 30 years ago when I had the opportunity to attend my first Rotary International Convention held in Kansas City, Missouri from 26-29 May 1985.
 
Excited about my first Convention, I brought along my Sony handheld audio cassette recorder (cutting edge technology in 1985) to record the many great speeches I was sure to hear and I was not disappointed.  This Convention was the 80th anniversary Convention and was also where “Polio 2005" was first introduced to the Rotary world and shortly thereafter was renamed “Polio Plus,” our effort to eradicate polio throughout the world.  You will hear reference to Polio 2005 in the recording that follows.
 
The following speech, entitled “Peace Though Service,” was given on the morning of the last day of the Convention by the late PDG L. S. “Skip” Kreidler from Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I have listened to this speech numerous times over the years and shared it with other Rotarians.  I am always amazed at the timelessness of this speech given so long ago and I still find it inspirational, educational, entertaining and a reminder of our purpose as Rotarians.  PDG Skip was a fine Rotarian and I hope you enjoy his timeless message as much as I have.
 
Google helped me find the entire 1985 Proceedings of the Seventy-Sixth Annual Convention of Rotary International.  The entire transcript of Skip’s speech was included and starts below. The recording starts where indicated in the introduction by RI President Carlos Canseco.
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 
Peace Through Service
 
by PDG L.S. "Skip" Kreidler
Introduction by 1984-85 RI President Carlos Canseco:
 
 
As our first speaker this morning, I'm delighted to welcome to the podium someone who has inspired thousands of his listeners to reach out for more—whether that be reaching for more service within the Rotary context or reaching for more success in the business environment, where he is a
 
(Start recording below here)
 
PDG L. S. Kreidler
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.   21:00 min.
 
(If you cannot see the recording below on your device, click here).
 
sought-after speaker in sales training seminars for IBM, Sears, Texas Instruments, and for his own company—the Campbell Chain Division of Cooper Manufacturing. He is a Paul Harris Fellow and past district governor.  From the Rotary Club of Southeast Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A., please join me in welcoming to this podium L. S. "Skip" Kreidler.
 
Thank you, President Carlos, President-elect Ed, Chairman Mike, distinguished members of the Board of Directors, honored guests, and my fellow Rotarians. Fifteen years ago when I became a charter member of the Rotary Club of Southeast Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was told you never say "no" in Rotary. Having not been given the right to say "no," I had to answer "yes" when President Carlos asked me to accept this assignment here today, although the thought immediately came to my mind: What could possibly be left to be said on Wednesday by a "little shot" that would not already have been said earlier in the week by one of the many distinguished "big shots" who have stood here before me?
 
Now that the moment has arrived, the answer is painfully clear . . . so, in conclusion . . .
 
Don't applaud! Let me just say that, had I spoken earlier in the week, I would no doubt have said all of the marvelous things we have heard here, and my speech would be evaluated as one of the greatest in the history of Rotary conventions.
 
I was recently reminded of the instruction given to the 1977 incoming district governors at the International Assembly by a past president of Rotary International, Bob Manchester, when he told us, "Take your work seriously . . . but not yourselves."
 
When the first agenda arrived, I very proudly showed it to my wife, Gayle, and I said, "Honey, do you realize how many great people are speaking at this convention?"
 
She looked at it and handed it back and said, "Yes, dear, one less than you think."
 
Take your work seriously, but not yourselves!
 
24 June, 1930, the American Cherokee Indian from my home district, known throughout the world as Will Rogers, honorary Rotarian Will Rogers, writing his internationally distributed column that day from the city of Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., said, "Well, they've run all the racketeers out of Chicago and they had no more than got them out 'til the Rotarian convention got in. Now they're talking about letting the crooks come back."
 
My thoughts today go back to another convention, the 1917 convention held in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. Eighty-three percent of Rotary's 311 clubs were represented by 1,884 of Rotary's 32,600 members. Interestingly enough, one of the most debated items of discussion was whether or not to double the Rotary International dues from US $1 to US $2.
 
All of Rotary's countries were represented—the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Cuba. We're sad that Cuba is no longer a part of the Rotary world. The list of countries where Rotary has formerly served and no longer exists continues to grow longer; and while this saddens us, it is, I think, a tribute to every country represented here today for we convene in freedom. Those who must rule by dictate cannot abide the idea of business and professional leaders gathering weekly for no apparent reason other than to plot to do good.
 
In his message to that convention, founder Paul Harris said, "Rotary was born this side of the sea. It could as well have been born in any other land of freedom. It could not have had origin in despotism, for Rotary has ever been the foe of injustice. Rotary is the 20th-century leveller of castes, destroyer of hypocrisy, the foe of artificiality, the lover of things genuine, and the ally of truth and righteousness."
 
Those many years ago, when the world was embroiled in conflict, Rotary cared. These many years later, when the world cries out for peace, Rotary cares. As a matter of fact, if Rotary does anything exceptionally well, it is to let the world know that Rotary cares.
 
We have tied in with the United Nations international themes and we have said, "Rotary cares for the child." "Rotary cares for the elderly." "Rotary cares for the handicapped." We've even entitled our slide presentation on the Health, Hunger, and Humanity Program Rotary Cares.
 
Of course we care! Why wouldn't we care? It's noble to care! All men and women of goodwill throughout the world care, for it costs nothing to care. No commitment is required to care. No talent is needed to care. No money is involved in caring. None of my precious time is invested in caring. And no needs are met and no service is rendered just because we care. Frankly, I don't care that Rotary cares. The world is full of people who care, but few who care enough to act! And, my Rotary friends, in this year of 1985, you and I have no choice but to care enough to act.
 
The poet, Emerson, once said, "Talkin' don't do it. Doin' it do it." That was Jake Emerson from Arkansas. Great poet! I sometimes think Jake had us in mind when he said it, for we do love to talk Rotary. We talk Rotary to each other. We talk Rotary at our club meetings. We talk Rotary at our district conferences. We talk Rotary at our regional conferences. We talk Rotary at our zone institutes. And we certainly talk Rotary at our international conventions.
 
I've become convinced that, if Rotary ever dies, it will probably be because we talked it to death! And I'm very much afraid that, at the trial, I will be among the first found guilty!
 
Because the needs for service are many and immediate, we cannot afford the lazy luxury of talk and care. We must serve now.
 
Listen, please, to the words of Past President Richard Evans:
 
It sometimes seems that we live as if we wondered when life was going to begin. It isn't always clear just what we're waiting for but some of us sometimes persist in waiting so long that life slips by, finding us still waiting for something that has been going on all the time.
 
There is no reason to doubt good intentions, but when in the world are we going to begin to live as if we understood that this is life? This is our time, our day, our generation. This is the life in which the work of this life is to be done.This is it. Whether we're thrilled or disappointed, busy or bored. This is life and it is passing. What are we waiting for?
 
Richard Evans asks, and we as Rotarians must answer: What are we waiting for? The need is now and when Rotarians care enough to act, the world inches closer to the elusive goal of peace!
 
A poet once said:
If there is righteousness in the heart, There will be beauty in the character;
If there is beauty in the character, There will be harmony in the home;
If there is harmony in the home, There will be order in the nation;
If there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world.
 
But we, as Rotarians—caring enough to act—must ask: Can there be righteousness in the heart when that heart aches from loneliness or fear? Can there be beauty when one is surrounded by the ugliness of poverty? And can there be harmony in a home where a mother had just seen her baby die of starvation or a father watches his child crawl crippled from polio? And can there possibly be any peace in our own minds, knowing that these conditions exist and that through this magnificent thing called Rotary we can do something about it?
 
I think it's fair to say that Rotary is more than just a spirit, more than just an organization. It is a spirit, a spirit of love, care, concern; and when we reach out and touch and change and even save lives, we begin to understand that "He profits most who serves best" is not a motto. It is a description of the vital summary of the meaning of life.
 
The Rev. Dr. Mouzon Biggs, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Tulsa, addressing our recent District 611 conference, captured it so beautifully when he said, "Life is not something we take, but something we give; and truly giving is the way to receive, for in serving someone else, we are truly fulfilled."
 
Because you and I made the choice to become Rotarians, we now have no choice but to serve. Dag Hammarksjold said, "You have not done enough, you have never done enough, so long as it is still possible that you have something to contribute." It is our privilege, not our responsibility, that we do have something to contribute.
 
Many of the astronauts have said that, when they looked back to Earth from the outer reaches of space, they did not recognize it, for it did not contain the artificial boundaries we have painted on maps and globes. We recognize that the boundaries serve a necessary purpose, but they need not be divisive.
 
Just last month I heard Past Director and current Foundation Trustee Pablo Campos Lynch remind Rotarians that the 2,000-mile boundary between the United States and Mexico does not divide the two countries. It joins them.
 
United States astronaut Scott Carpenter said that when he looked back, what he saw was a more or less round spaceship that seemed to have no source of power, save the power of the people on it, and it occurred to him from his vantage point on the Moon that we had better learn how to run it together!
 
When you and I care enough to act, to share time, talent, and money with The Rotary Foundation, we continue to erase those artificial boundaries. Our Rotary Scholars and Group Study Exchange team members criss-cross this beautiful planet Earth. They come back with preconceived prejudices torn apart, artificial boundaries erased from their creative and growing minds. As they assume decision-making positions of leadership in commerce and industry, theology and education, law and in government, we inch closer to peace because Rotarians cared enough to act!
 
Tolstoy said, "The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people." As we make our massive global commitment to serve other people through the Polio 2005 project, we showed all the world that, as Rotarians who care enough to act, we are blind to the artificial barriers of geography, creed, and color. And we have to, because fear and pain and frustration know no such boundaries. And we inch ever closer to peace because Rotarians cared enough to act.
 
My Cherokee friend, Will Rogers said, "I have a scheme for stopping war. It's this—no nation is allowed to enter a war 'till they've paid for the last one."
 
Dwight David Eisenhower said, "I think people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it."
 
Through our magnificent Health, Hunger, and Humanity Program, Rotarians, and often their wives, bypass government red tape and artificial boundaries on a people-to-people basis so that our brothers and sisters on this beautiful planet Earth may receive the precious gifts of freedom—freedom from illness, freedom from hunger, freedom from despair, freedom to enjoy peace—through peace of mind. George Eliot said, "What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?"
 
What is required of us is a complete and total commitment to the ideal—no, to the conviction—that "Peace Through Service" is not idealistic philosophy, it is an attainable reality. Paul Harris once said, "We don't need more members in Rotary . . . if we could change 25 percent of our members into Rotarians, we could change world history."
 
And change it we must, my Rotary friends, for the alternative to a world without peace is unthinkable. And if the task seems great, it's only because the opportunities for service are unlimited.
 
The strength will come and the job will get done
but listen . . . what I tell you now is true . . .
If there is to be peace on Earth—good will to men
the service must start with you.
And it will never be done as long as the sun
sets on our brothers in need.
We cannot rest for there is no peace
in the minds of those whose hearts bleed.
 
That one's mine. I've quoted everyone else and I thought I ought to have one shot in here.
 
With a total commitment to what Past President Clem Renouf called "the uncommon philosophy of Service Above Self," there is no limit to what we can do as individuals, as Rotary clubs, and as Rotary International.
Paul Harris said it so much better than I, and it's only fitting that his remarks should conclude mine. Addressing that 1917 convention when the world so yearned for peace, he said:
 
Individual effort when well directed can accomplish much, but the greatest good must necessarily come from the combined efforts of many men. Individual effort may be turned to individual needs. But combined efforts should be dedicated to the service of mankind. The power of combined effort knows no limitation. This superlative power no man may appropriate to his own use. This is the world's subconscious conclusion. We must clearly understand the justice of it and measure up to its requirements.
Rotary . . . has fallen short of realizing its own strength. On no occasion has the cumulative power of all Rotary ever been felt.
 
It sometimes seems that the forces of good are demoralized; not less can be said of the forces of evil. However weary right may be, wrong is much more so. These are mighty days, days of incomparable opportunity—of opportunity undreamed. There will never be a better chance than now!
 
So said Paul Harris 68 years ago and so say we today. On this beautiful planet Earth, where every minute of every hour of every day millions pray for peace, there will never be a better chance than NOW to bring peace through service! Thank you.
 
President Canseco: Thank you, Skip. Your words, "There will never be a better time than now to bring peace" are particularly appropriate when we speak of The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. We have called it the "Foundation for Peace."
 
 
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