One of Rotary’s most colorful traditions is members exchanging club banners. Clubs display their own decorative banners at meetings and district events, and Rotarians who travel to other countries often take these banners to exchange with the clubs they visit.
The banners often include symbols or images of a club’s town, region, or country. Some represent local cultural traditions or artistry by featuring leatherwork, weaving, embroidery, or hand-painted designs. Many of the banners are works of art in themselves.
Exchanging banners became so popular that the Rotary International Board of Directors was concerned that the practice would place a financial burden on clubs. In 1959, it urged members to “exercise discretion, moderation, and measured judgment in making provision for such exchanges.”
Today, the tradition continues as a way for clubs to express their friendship.
The approximately 20,000 banners in Rotary’s archives reflect clubs’ hometown pride and their connection to Rotary International.
Our club has a collection of some 100+ banners that have been collected from clubs all over the world. In 1990, Tommy Haines, the minister at the Second and Wallace St. Church of Christ was on a mission trip to Russia. While in Moscow, Tommy heard that a new (the first Rotary Club in the Soviet Union) had just started meeting. Tommy contacted Rotarians in Moscow and was able to obtain a banner from that club. When he returned to San Saba, he presented the banner to the club.
Several years ago, the Rotary Club of Sheridan WY invited our club to travel to Sheridan and go on a mule deer hunt. About 10 members of the club traveled to Wyoming and enjoyed the Rotarian fellowship. We brought home a banner from their club.
I have been fortunate to visit several clubs across the country and abroad. I have brought home banners from clubs in Barcelona and Madrid, Spain. In addition, I have been able to bring home banners from several California clubs. Once while visiting a club in California, I was given a banner from a Rotarian from Japan.
Over the years, our exchange students have presented banners from the clubs that sponsored their coming to San Saba. As a result of this, we have banners from Argentina, Japan, Spain, France, Germany, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden and other countries. Any San Saba Rotarian that visits a club can present a San Saba club banner to the club they visit and most often will be given a banner from the club they are visiting.
We often display the banner we have received at our club meeting, but that is difficult during this time of virtual meeting. Watch our Facebook page, and we will post photos of some of the banners we have.
If you have a heart for fellowship with good folks across the country and around the world, and if you would like the opportunity to spread goodwill and better understanding to our fellow man, then you have a place in Rotary. Please join us online for our meeting by calling me (512-924-4687), and I will send you a Zoom invitation to Hang Your Hat With Rotary.