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The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of a Chicago Insurance man, Melvin Jones, who wondered why local business clubs - he was an active member of one - could not expand their horizons from purely business concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.

Jones' idea struck a chord within his own group, the Business Circle of Chicago and they authorised him to explore his concept with similar organisations from around the United States. His efforts resulted in an organisational meeting at a local hotel on June 7, 1917.

The twelve men who gathered there overcome a natural sense of loyalty to their parent clubs, voted the "Association of Lions Clubs" into existence and issued a call for a national Convention to be held in Dallas, Texas, United States in October of the same year.

Thirty-six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states heeded the call, approved the "Lions Clubs" designation and elected Dr. William P Woods of Indiana as their first President. Guiding force and founder Melvin Jones named Acting Secretary, thus began as Association with Lionism that only ended with his death in 1961.

That first Convention also began to define what Lionism was to become A Constitution and by-laws were adopted, the colours of purple and gold approved, and a start made on Lionism's Objectives and Code of Ethics.

One of the objects was starting for an era that prided itself on mercenary individualism and has remained one of the main tenets of Lionism ever since. "No Club", it read "shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object".

Community leaders soon began to organise clubs throughout the United States, and the association became "International" with the formation of the Windsor, Ontario, Canada Lions' Club in 1920. Clubs were later organised in China, Mexico and Cuba. By 1927 membership stood at 60,000 in 1,183 clubs. In 1935, Panama became home to the first Central American Club, with the South American Club being organised in Columbia the following year. Lionism reached Europe in 1948, as Clubs were chartered in Sweden, Switzerland and France. In 1952 , the first Club chartered in Japan. Since then, the association has become truly global, with clubs in more than 170 countries and geographical areas worldwide.

The Name
The proper name of the association is "The International Association of Lions Clubs". Many Lions, however prefer the use of the shorter form of "Lions Club International".

The Emblem
Throughout the world, Lions are recognised by the emblem they wear on their lapels. It consists of a gold letter "L" on a circular purple field. Bordering this is a circular gold area with 2 lion profiles at either side, facing away from the centre. The word "Lions" appears at the top and "international" at the bottom. Symbolically, the lions face both past and future - proud of the past and confident of the future. Lions wear their emblem with pride.

Official Colours
The royal colours of purple and gold were selected as the official colours when the association was organised in 1917. Purple stands for loyalty to friends and to one's self and for integrity of mind and heart. Gold symbolises sincerity or purpose, literality in judgement, purity in life and generosity in mind, heart and purpose towards humanity.