Midnight Freemason founder Todd Creason recently wrote a piece about a Brother who had objected to being called "Bro." (https://tinyurl.com/y73zfl4t) It brought to mind a somewhat similar experience I had when I was editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine.
As do many Masonic magazines, ours included a section in the back containing news and events from Lodges around the state. Many of these were stories about Lodges which had recognized Brothers for 50 years of service.
On one occasion I got a rather scathing letter from a Brother with an intense objection to the fact I had called the award a "50-year pin." In his letter, he was adamant about the significance of the award and insisted it should always be called a "50-year jewel." He made impassioned points about how Brothers receiving that award had served the fraternity for nearly a lifetime and deserved more respect than having the award called a "pin."
The fact is I agreed with everything he said about the 50-year members. They were, in fact, among our most esteemed Brothers and they had served the fraternity well. They deserved every bit of the respect the author of the letter called for.
So I wrote him back and told him that; but I added that I didn't see the word "pin" as derogatory, and said I didn't think it detracted from the significance of the award. I noted it is the term Brothers commonly use when they talk about or present it. I also pointed out I didn't write those articles. Rather, the members of the Lodges themselves wrote them and sent them in. The articles almost always referred to the award as a "50-year pin," confirming how common that terminology was. I might also note Ray Denslow, one of our most prolific and respected Masonic authors, called it a "50-year button."
So, in the magazine, I continued to allow authors to use the terminology, "50-year pin;" but that isn’t the end of the story.
Todd's article eloquently talked about respect within the Craft. While I still believe calling the award a "50-year pin" is not disrespectful, I can't help thinking about that Brother's letter almost every time I see the award presented. I am persuaded that the word "jewel" may elevate its status, or the meaning behind it, just a bit. That pin and the Brother who wears it certainly deserve respect for his service to this fraternity. So, I find myself more and more referring to it as a jewel. That letter I received years ago was caustic in tone, but I am increasingly grateful to the Brother who wrote it. He gave me something to think about.
I might add, this coming April I am eligible to receive my 20-year… jewel.