Pause for a minute and consider the two fraternal plaque near the front door of the Castle. Typically we race through the front door without noticing them, much less giving them any considered thought. They are just there. Strictly speaking, they two go together and speak volumes about who we have been for 147 years, honestly and authentically. They are mutually enriching fraternal testaments, a communion, about our historic fraternal home and our long-linked historic brotherhood. Hence, there is a historic rightness about their placement at the front of the Castle. They announce our unifying identity as a brotherhood. They are, figuratively speaking, like sentries over the Castle. Combined, one could say that they are a witness, a combined historic witness, of our oneness as the most historic fraternal brotherhood at the University of Maine. Let’s think about that. The Castle represents the beautiful communal dimension of our greatness, and the other represent the unwavering brotherly dimension of our greatness. Combined, both speak to our unique greatness at Maine. They speak to how special our fraternal home is, and how special our Omega Mu brotherhood is at the University of Maine. One plaque commemorates the architectural importance of our Tudor-inspired Castle, and the second honors an extraordinary fraternal brother, Hosea Buck, a mentor, friend, and unflinching, tireless leader who helped shepherd our brotherhood, as well the University of Maine, in many ways until he died in 1937. These two plaques, along with the commemorative plaques and brotherly memorials inside the Castle, speak to fraternal continuity, fraternal cooperation, fraternal courage, fraternal energy, fraternal dignity, fraternal loyalty, fraternal caring, fraternal generosity, fraternal spirit, fraternal family, fraternal triumphs, fraternal achievements, fraternal vision, and fraternal fortitude at the University of Maine. These qualities, through most of our combined fraternal history, have created a good fraternal portrait. These qualities matter most in the end, and they have been our blood and marrow, heart and mind, since our founding. They have all created our lifelong pride, and we remain steadfast and positive about our future as we approach our 150th and 125th fraternal anniversaries in 2024. We have forged a very distinct fraternal path at the University of Maine, and our fraternal longevity, our fraternal success, did not come by chance. Sustained success is never achieved by chance in anything in life. It is only by individual and collective responsibility and determination that success is sustained, and our fraternal legacy of success will continue at the University of Maine. The future holds beautiful things for Omega Mu, and our history proves it. Let's think about that!
We are all keenly aware of our history at the University of Maine, and we are, rightly so, proud of that history. Upon that fact there is no debate, and I am unequivocally sure that we are all thankful for whatever motivation, coincidence, circumstance, brought all of us to the front door of the Castle to start the pledging-initiatory journey to become Omega Mu brothers. In any case, thank God you went through the front door to become Omega Mu brothers, and in so doing becoming part of the historic lore of our fraternal brotherhood at Maine, steady and true since 1848, 1874, 1899. And as such, we are unique, and that is a wonderful testament to our collective perseverance and determination. Be proud of that, that is all.
Happily, we walked through the front door of the Castle. Happily, we all lived together in the Castle. It was a fun, life-enhancing experience, Yet, happily, and with deep gratitude, we continue to return to the Castle to see life-long friends. Our Omega Mu brotherhood and the Castle, a great union through life. A simple truth that started with a simple Q.T.V. catchphrase: “Enjoyment, sociability, and the best interests of the brothers through life.” Our fraternal continuity is strong because of these simple ideals.
In various modified forms, traditions, rites, and events have defined the fraternal culture and fabric of our brotherhood since our Q.T.V. years, and they guided our life in the Castle. Good traditions created our Omega Mu culture and our stated values and beliefs. Some traditions and events were more formal and charming, while others were playful and entertaining, but they both were mutually enriching and clearly showed the soul of our brotherhood. A Friday fraternal afternoon pilgrimage to the Oronoka; playing football on the front lawn on a beautiful fall day; sleeping late on a Saturday morning in the RAM; reading lyrics at dinner; the imaginative, creative thought in creating fun snow sculptures; jumping with happy-go-luck fraternal élan to a tree; the shake-up genius and fun of pranks in the RAM; the mid-week joy of 11-2’s; the honor and respect of escorting the house mother into the dinning room and then singing the Doxology; the tattoo road trip to Newport; the carefree celebrating on Fiji Island; the special fraternal intensity of beating ATO in our mud bowl games; the elegant formals; the fun, out-of-the-box theme-oriented dances, and the rich, thoughtful heritage of Pig Dinner. There was real worth in all of them, and they were all significant events through the year. Most importantly, they were not foolish or destructive to the Castle, or to the close bond of our brotherhood. Our good fraternal life would simply not have been what it was without them, and there is no way of overstating that reality. At a minimum, these traditions were popular and fun, and at a maximum they created our stability and harmony, that is 147 years strong. With that in mind, one thing is historically clear: living with each other in the Castle was not a dull life. Most importantly, we did not discuss whether they were their relevant, old-fashioned, or out-dated. On the contrary, we cherished all of them. And, perhaps, it is not too far-reaching to say that they did shape us for the better; I believe they did. They certainly did not hurt, and we lived with a strong collective sense of well-being. All-in-all, it was a seminal time in our lives that we do not regret, and we never will, nor should we.
And so, we remain proud of our history and our traditions, and there is perhaps no more enjoyable tradition than the passionate, shared fun of our muddiest tradition, driven by our fraternal pride to remain unbeaten: Mud Bowl. And, as usual, the pictures convey far more meaning than what I have written. Perge.
We are a proud brotherhood, and I believe every Omega Mu Fijis will understand and at smile what Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated about home in Letters and Papers from Prison and; second, what Thomas Jefferson said about lifelong friends:
“Most people have forgotten nowadays what house can mean, though some of us have come to realize it as never before. It is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary.” (Bonhoeffer)
“Friends we have, if we have merited them. Those of our earliest years stand nearest in our affections. Our college friends are the dearest.” (Jefferson)
“What if the space be long and wide,
That parts us from our brother’s side
A soul-joined chain unites our band,
And memory links us hand in hand.”
(Phi Gamma Delta fraternity song)
Chip Chapman, ’82