¦ home ¦ upcoming ¦ about ¦ Hospitals ¦ history ¦ people ¦ multimedia ¦ links ¦ buy ¦

the image:

Editorial Without Words

the statue:

Silent Messenger

the message:

No Man Stands So Tall as When He Stoops to Help a Child

based upon:

Noble Emil Denemark (Medinah Shriners), “Editorial Without Words: An Update on the Photo that Became a Shrine Icon,” Medinah Review, Vol. 51, No. 3 (June/July 2005), 19; and

Noble Don Caldwell (Medinah Shriners), “‘Editorial’ Statue Unveiled: Project of First Lady Florence Smith,” Medinah Review, Vol. 51, No. 5 (October/November 2005), 13.

this article was edited by Noble David A. Miley (Medinah Shriners)

Nobles Denemark and Miley are members of West Suburban Shrine Club

On 22 October 2007, Shriners Hospitals for Children unveiled its new logo, as part of a system-wide branding effort. The new logo’s forward-facing, refreshed look represents Shriners Hospitals as a progressive organisation, whilst celebrating the legacy of a spontaneous, innocuous – and yet deeply symbolic – event.

The photograph known as the “Editorial Without Words” is probably the best recognized symbol of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, “the World’s Greatest Philanthropy”, yet it was taken almost by accident. Randy Dieter, the photographer, recalled that in 1970, he had been on assignment, covering Hadi Shriners’ annual outing for handicapped children at Mesker Park in Evansville, Indiana.

To the left is Randy Dieter’s original photo of Noble Albert Lanier Hortman (then of Evansville, Indiana and Hadi Shriners), carrying young Bobbi Jo Wright. The older girl on their left is Hortman’s daughter, Laura, who was also a patient at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Saint Louis. It was her treatment and the Shriners who made it possible that led Hortman to join the Shrine himself.

“I was taking shots of the midway and was using my telephoto lens,” Mr. Dieter explained. “I saw a local Shriner walking by, carrying a little girl in one hand and her crutches in the other. My camera wouldn’t fire. Then they were too close for my lens. I ran past them, but the camera jammed. I had to take my last shot as they walked by. It was the end of the roll. If I had to think about it, I wouldn’t have come up with something like that. Fate guides you.”

Today, the famous photo has been reproduced on stained-glass windows, mosaics, tie tacks, pins, and in a larger-than-life statue entitled “Silent Messenger”. The Silent Messenger, often dressed in a bolero jacket and necktie like those worn by many Shrine marching units, stands outside of the International Shrine Headquarters building in Tampa, at Shriners Hospitals across the country (including the Chicago Shriners Hospital as shown to the left, in the two photographs below Dieter’s original photograph), and many Shrine centres, such as the Medinah Shrine Centre in Addison (also shown to the left, below the close-up of the hospital’s statue). Our Silent Messenger statue was unveiled by its chief fundraiser, Medinah Shriners’ Past First Lady Florence Smith, and Past Potentate Stewart Smith (2001) five weeks ahead of the Shrine Centre’s 21-22 October 2005 grand opening. The next photograph on the left shows the Smiths at the dedication.

The statue outside of a given Shrine centre is customized such that the fez bears that particular temple’s name. For instance, the statue in front of Medinah Shrine Centre reads “MEDINAH.” Because each hospital is a regional facility, sponsored by several Shrine temples, selecting one name would be inappropriate, yet the statue would look immediately wrong to the viewer’s eye were the upper portion of the fez to be smooth. As shown in the close-up of the statue at the Chicago Shriners Hospital, in place of actual letters, there are simply line fragments that spell nothing. Similarly, in place of a title, unit, or committee name in small letters, the bottom of the fez has line fragments that spell nothing.

Although, as stated above, the statue is very often crafted in a Shrine marching uniform, it is not surprising that the bronze statue in front of Hadi Shrine Centre is portrayed in casual-wear modelled after that worn by their Noble Hortman when the original photograph was taken. The final photograph on the bottom-left side of the bottom row shows Hadi Shriners’ statue.

Noble Hortman retired to Warner Robbins, Georgia where he was active with the Al Sihah Shriners in nearby Macon. His 2005 photo appears at the bottom left-centre, to the right of Hadi Shriners’ statue depicting his 1970 act. The black camel carried Al away to his final reward on 6 December 2009, but he left behind an immortal legacy.

The bottom right-centre image shows an adult Bobbi Jo Wright in 2005, formerly the little girl whom Albert Hortman carried in Dieter’s famous photo.

“It still seems unreal,” said Ms. Wright. “I have many wonderful memories of the years I was a patient at the Saint Louis Shriners Hospital and remember all the fun activities. I was born with cerebral palsy, which resulted in many orthopaedic problems that made walking difficult. I had many surgeries at the Saint Louis Hospital. They greatly improved my ability to walk.”

Still living in Evansville in her forties, Ms. Wright received her baccalaureate degree in English from Anderson University. She is active in her church and works for the Deaconess Hospital in the Grace O. Hahn Health Sciences Library. Although she uses crutches on grass and uneven surfaces, she otherwise walks quite well with only a cane.

Photographer Randy Dieter, now in his sixties, works as a designer for a sign company in Cleveland, Ohio. The photo of Mr. Dieter with a miniature Silent Messenger, on the bottom right of this page, appeared in the June/July 2005 edition of Medinah Review, marking the first time Mr. Dieter has appeared with a story about his famous photo. The three photos from 2005 were obtained by West Suburban Shrine Club member Emil Denemark, associate editor of Medinah Review, for the article.

“No Man Stands So Tall as When He Stoops to Help a Child.”

The song playing on this page is I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, © 1919 by Jaan Kenbrovin and John William Kellette. Please click here to read about the role this song played in the founding of Shriners Hospitals for Children and why it means so much to Shriners everywhere.


The views expressed on this web site do not reflect those of any body or member of Freemasonry, apart from the West Suburban Shrine Club and/or its Webmaster. Please click here to view our privacy policy.

This site was last updated 03/08/13