The proud history of an organization once known as the “Legion of Honor” had its beginnings in a period of civil strife known as the Reconstruction. Three young cadets at the Virginia Military Institute had become disgusted with the amount of hazing, humiliation, and physical harassment the younger members of the student body suffered at the hands of the upperclassmen. Following an evening of Bible study at the home of the superintendent, the three young men each gave their solemn pledge to create a new brotherhood, one based on honor and respect for their fellow man. After a period of secrecy, the founders decided to introduce their new society to the world on January 1, 1869, the official birthdate of Sigma Nu.
Though its beginnings were small, with only three honorable friends, Sigma Nu has expanded greatly since its early Reconstruction days, with more than 227,000 lifetime initiates and 278 chapters and colonies throughout the United States and Canada. With the example set by the founders to stand strong in the face of adversity, many Sigma Nus have truly excelled in life, including Bob Barker (Emmy-winning host of The Price is Right), Adam Duritz (Lead singer for the Counting Crows), Eli Manning (Quarterback for the New York Giants), Don Tyson (Chairman of Tyson Foods), and Harrison Ford (Oscar-nominated actor, known for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Fugitive, and Witness). With Brothers like these, no wonder so many men want to wear the Sigma Nu black, white, and gold!
For all who are familiar with the character of Sigma Nu men, it is no surprise that philanthropy and charitable works play a large part for every chapter, and for this reason, Sigma Nu developed the Helping Hand Initiative in 2004. The Helping Hand Initiative consists of philanthropic and service-based organizations whose efforts are closely aligned to the mission of Sigma Nu, such as The Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards, CHARACTER COUNTS!, Habitat-for-Humanity, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By participating in the Helping Hand Initiative, Brothers will continue to build various skills such as project management, communication skills, networking skills, and leadership development, all while building a positive image for their local chapters and helping a worth-while cause.
The founders of Sigma Nu formed their Badge to resemble the French medal, legion l’honour, the five-armed cross with serpent, crossed swords, and gold letters embodying the code of honor that has guided the Fraternity since its very beginning. The commitment to brotherhood, sense of duty, and respect for humanity has set Sigma Nu apart from all others, sustaining the founding principles of Love, Truth, and Honor.