In August 1914, the long-expected “Great War” broke out in Europe.
Within the space of four years, it spread to all corners of the world and gave rise to massive disruptions in lands which had no part in the quarrels that spawned it.
That was as true of Canada and the United States as of many other countries, since the quarrels sprang out of long-standing racial,
dynastic and imperial disputes in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe, and on the continent as a whole.
But historic events have a way of sweeping all before them.
Before the war finally ended, Canada and its people had been changed irrevocably.
It is said that the Canadian nation came into being during the war, a belief summed up by the phrase “a nation forged in fire.”
Beta Theta Pi was certainly not immune to these realities.
The events of the war forced Theta Zeta Chapter to the brink of extinction.
The dramatic response of the entire Fraternity to this crisis was without parallel in the annals of American college fraternities.
Once and for all, Beta Theta Pi proved that, when we speak of brotherhood and mutual assistance, we mean what we say.
When the war began, few expected it to last long.
The popular sentiment was that “the boys will be home for Christmas.” Patriotism and nationalism shouted out so loudly that few bothered to wonder whether the enemy powers might be better prepared than their own forces.
Certainly, there were few who foresaw, much less prepared for, the exigencies of a long conflict.
Although the United States long evaded the maelstrom, Canada was at war instantly because of its imperial links with Great Britain.
The young men of Canada soon flocked by the thousands to enlist “for King and Country” and the Beta men — of course — went with them.
For King and Country As the war continued, more and more Betas signed up, and then left for overseas service.
The situation was already near the danger point only a few months after war was declared.
A year later, in the fall of 1915, Theta Zeta Chapter was in a truly desperate state.
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