The Jewel

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

Midnight Freemason founder Todd Creason recently wrote a piece about a Brother who had objected to being called "Bro."  ( It brought to mind a somewhat similar experience I had when I was editor of theMissouri 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.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasonsblog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.


  1. Great aricle i belive u do anything for 50 years its a jewl to be blessed to be able to be here but as we know sometimes our brothers can feel one way and not look at the whole pic that's the term used the only one i ever heard so pin jewl congrats that's amazing and i only wish i'm that lucky to recive mine

  2. Brother Harrison,
    Your underlying message that respect should be present in all of our interactions with fellow Brethren (and everybody else for that matter) is something with which I strongly agree. However I strongly disagree with any notion that having earned the 50-year "jewel" that a Brother is in any way elevated. We keep telling each other that we meet on the level, and too often in reality once we're on the level we trip over ourselves as we bow down to a past master, district deputy, or (whoop de do!) a grand master. What better way to reinforce the level than for such accomplished Masons to insist that they're treated just like one of the Bros. And the reverence afforded the jewel and other Masonic bling sort of contradicts that whole neither naked nor clad thing that was such an important part of our initiation.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.