Division Commander Chris Graham (Lamar/Stephen F. Austin) recited the “long Creed” of Sigma Nu at both College of Chapters and Grand Chapter in 2014. The staff of The Delta spoke with Brother Graham and asked him about the story of how he came to memorize the Creed and what it means to him.
After I was initiated, one of the first things I did – using the old merchandise form – I bought a copy of the long Creed, the short Creed, and a copy of A Serpent, A Rose and A Star. I framed the long Creed and hung it on my wall not long after I was initiated. The Creed was always something I was impressed with – the elegance and beauty of it.
Graham first saw the Creed recited in long-form at College of Chapters by then Division Commander Joe Cannon (North Texas). The experience was an inspiration to Graham who began to memorize the Creed while an undergraduate.
Fast forward a year or so before I graduated, I was living in the fraternity house between my sophomore and junior years. In the house we had the long Creed hanging on the wall in our room of honor. One evening I was there cleaning the room and I sat down and read the Creed. I realized that I had about a third of it memorized, without ever really trying to memorize it. Then I said, “I want to do this for me.” I never intended it for anyone other than myself.
Before I graduated college, I had the whole Love section memorized and I pretty much had the Honor section memorized. I would stumble with it but with those two sections I was close to having half of it.
After graduating, Graham set aside the Creed. During this time, Graham began his career and got married. Tragically, Graham’s young wife was stricken with cancer and she passed away not long after their marriage.
After she passed I sank into a depression or whatever you want to call it. You try to find a reason to get up every day. It wasn’t long after that I became Chapter Advisor at Lamar. I watched these young men reach out to me and engage me to be involved. I realized Sigma Nu was very important to me at that time because it was giving me something to live for. I don’t want to sound so morbid but it gave me a purpose beyond just getting up and going to work. It was just another extension and a reason to keep moving forward. And it truly reminded me of what was in our Creed, the concept of brotherly love, truly being there for others.
So I started reading the Creed again and really decided I wanted to finish memorizing it because it gave me such peace and solace. So within a few years I pretty much had it. I only recited it to myself as it was a personal thing, and I never saw myself being in a position to recite it for someone else until there was a death of one of our chapter’s charter members.
Graham was approached by the family of the deceased brother and they asked for some token of appreciation that could be provided during the service. Graham offered to recite the Creed at the wake which the family accepted. Additionally, the Funeral Ritual was performed just for the family prior to the burial service.
It was the first time I ever recited the Creed for anybody other than myself. As I was saying it, it was emotional because I knew who I was doing it for: the family, in honor of their father and husband who was such a great Sigma Nu and inspiration to me. I realized that I really did know it but I knew it because of what it meant to me.
After reciting the Creed at the funeral, Graham was approached by Zeta Psi (Lamar) to recite it at their formal. This started a series of recitations that included the charterings of chapters at Oklahoma, Stephen F. Austin, and Houston. Finally, Graham was approached by then Regent Charlie Eitel to recite the Creed at College of Chapters and Grand Chapter. At both conventions Graham recited the Creed before hundreds of Sigma Nu brothers.
People have asked me “Why?” and I always say that it was an inspiration to me and it still is today. There have been days where I have had the most rotten day and I’ll turn off my radio and just recite the Creed on the way home from work. It relaxes me; it reminds me of why I’m a Sigma Nu and the great things our fraternity stands for. I’m pleased that I have had the opportunity to share it with others and at College of Chapters and Grand Chapter.
To have so many students come up to me and tell me that I have inspired them reminds me of why I am a volunteer. I want to give back, I want to inspire those young men, just like I was inspired as a young man to be something more, to be better than just average. It was just one of those things that came into my life at the right time that I’ve been able to share. And it’s been an honor to be able to share, on whatever stage whether it be at a small chapter gathering or Grand Chapter. It was just something that I am honored that I have the ability to do and to share.