MY MEMORY of the 12th of July dates back to around 1953, when I
was a wee boy, returning from our new home in the East of Scotland, to the place
of my Birth in Harthill, Lanarkshire.
I remember standing with my Mother and Dad, (neither of whom were Orange)
waiting as the Banners, Bands and sash clad Orangemen came into view from the
marshalling area on the Mint Hill.
At that moment I felt a feeling inside my body, that from that day, to this has
never left me, (and never will). I stood in amazement at the stirring sound of
the Flutes and Drums, the pure magic of the fluttering Banners and the wonder of
that Colour which we now hold so dear.
From that day forward I had constantly asked my Mother to allow me to join the
juvenile Lodge in Bonnyrigg, (my new home) but this was not allowed. I must
point out that neither she nor my Father had anything against the Order, but
more the fact that they did not understand it.
My Father was from an Irish R.C. family, and had changed religion with my Mother
(living in Harthill, that was a good idea). But had warned me all my life to
NEVER marry a ‘Papist’, or he would not be there. I guess conversion had
worked, and if you heard some of the stories ho told about them, you would
understand his reasons.
Anyway, when I turned 16, my Dad came home one day and asked me if I still
wanted to join the Order. I immediately accepted and joined LOL 25 Gorebridge,
My Granny (Wallace) from Harthill bought me my first Sash, which unfortunately
over my many moves, has been lost. She also loaned me Eight Pounds to buy my
first reversible 2 1/2 ring. I will always remember her saying when she gave me
my Sash, ‘You won't stick it for six months’.
Well here I am 35 years later, still hanging on. I have spent countless hours
reading on The Order, And British and Irish history, that I might better prepare
myself for the many debates I have been involved with over the years with the
R.C. community, and in some cases more importantly the moderate protestant
community, and to this day still believe the Order to be one of the greatest
organizations ever formed.
While being initiated into the Order in Scotland, most of my Orange life has
been spent in North America, (30 years). I have walked the Twelfth in Belfast
many times, and Liverpool more times than I can remember, (Liverpool being my
favourite) and had the opportunity to visit the Imperial Orange Council of the
World on two occasions.
My Son William, was initiated into the Order Last November 21st. at the
inauguration of our Lodge, and to present him with his Sash, was one of the
proudest moments of my life.
I have formed three Flute Bands, (two in Canada, and one in Scotland) Two Orange
Lodges, and am P.M. of two Primary Lodges, Past C.M. and went as high as Jnr.
D.G.M. of Ontario West.
I am currently W.M. and founder of the Newly formed Boyne Defenders, L.O.L.
But the thing that still keeps me going is that feeling you get deep down in the
pit of your stomach, and the swelling of pride in your heart, that comes with
the morning of The 12th., that I am afraid if you don't understand it, and if
you don't get that feeling, then I guess you never will.