Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pins and Opinions

Today we have a bonus post from Bro. Matt Blaisdell, State Master Councilor of PA DeMolay, regarding some upcoming changes with DeMolay International.

In light of our motivational movements, Take Control! and Mission: Control!, the members and advisors of Pennsylvania DeMolay have come to realize that decision making power should lie with the Active DeMolays, with advisors assisting along the way.

The Board of Directors, which is composed of the International Master Councilor, Bro. Maxwell C. Shoemaker, International Congress Secretary, Bro. Michael A. Burge, DeMolay International Grand Master, “Dad” J. Weldon Clampitte, and other elected and appointed officers who serve DeMolay International, held a Directors meeting recently to discuss current issues and new ideas. Following this meeting, I was informed that the Grand Master proposed that silicone bracelets should replace the “No. 1 Pin” for a member’s exemplary effort in membership recruitment.

One source, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked me “As far as maintaining the prestige of the honor, do u have any suggestions?” It was then that I challenged the proposal, but only after the Board of Directors had their vote. Another unnamed source mentioned to me that “the ICS and IMC do have a vote on the board. The board gave permission to pursue this. The “No. 1  Pin” will still be available for purchase.”
Naturally, I feel that my duty is to represent the members of Pennsylvania DeMolay and the best interest of our Order, but when asked for my suggestions following the discussion and vote, I felt that my opinion didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

As a fellow member, “No. 1 Pin” holder, and Pennsylvania DeMolay Representative within DeMolay International, I want to voice the opinions of the members who lead this Order. I went in search of some opinions of DeMolays who are in positions of leadership for their thoughts on this change.

After discussing it with Region II Representative, Bro. Andrew Prescott, he feels that “While I applaud DeMolay International for trying to make one of its most basic awards more accessible and modern, as well as a Public Relations tool, I'm not sure the Number One Pin is the way to accomplish that. I'd worry about restoring the physical quality of older awards like the Representative DeMolay or Degree of Chevalier, making them of a higher fabric and material like they were a few years ago, instead of changing the basic awards.”

I also got in touch with International Congress Secretary, Bro. Michael Burge of West Virginia. He said “I support the idea of our Grand Master, to issue a rubber wristband to new members and as a reward for those who sponsor a young man into our Order for the first time. However, I hope not to see the number one pin go out of circulation entirely. The number one pin should be sold at the DeMolay and More Store, along with our other lapel pins and merchandise. Breaking a tradition or making a change is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome, whether it be in an organization or in daily living. We are not making this transition for the mere sake of change or because of cost. Lapel pins can only be worn on the lapel of a jacket. When you are out with your friends shooting hoops or hanging out at the mall, you are not in a suit and, therefore, cannot wear a lapel pin. However, you can wear a wristband with formal or casual attire. It can be worn when shooting hoops or hanging out at the mall with your friends. It can, also, be worn to Chapter meetings and other DeMolay functions. There will be two different color wristbands. One will be for the first line signer. The other will be for the new member, and will, also, be available to everyone through the DeMolay and More Store. The purpose here is to provide another opportunity for membership, as a reward for membership itself. Someone will notice that wristband that says “DeMolay,” and will ask the question we all like to hear, “what is DeMolay?” With that, you have just sparked the interest of a prospective member. I wish to make it clear that this is not necessarily a permanent change. If this proves to be highly unfavored during its course or becomes unpopular, it can be discontinued by the Grand Master and Board of Directors of DeMolay International, which meets three times a year. I feel we should, at least, give this a try. If it doesn’t work out, we can always go back to awarding the number one pin. It’s a great idea and has potential for success. If anyone would like to talk more on the issue, feel free to contact me..”

Brother Shoemaker, International Master Councilor said “When this decision was made we were unaware of the popular use of the “#1 Pins” in certain Jurisdictions and we apologize for the inconvenience. However, DeMolay International would certainly work to supply those Jurisdictions who still prefer the pins with them as opposed to the bracelets. We understand that these pins may mean a lot to that member who brought in his first friend into this great organization and we do not want to cheapen that experience. If these pins are an integral part of a Jurisdiction's program then I feel that DeMolay International would still supply them, but we would also like for you to know that the rubberized bracelets would also be available if your Jurisdiction would prefer to wear and promote the best organization in the world, DeMolay!”

I understand the strategies based about the proposal that it will save money, and will advertise DeMolay in the form of the ¼ inch silicone bracelet, however I’ve based my own opinions contrary of support of this proposal.

Needless to say, membership is the fuel that carries DeMolay through the future. Without membership our numbers would diminish. I feel that we shouldn’t spend a mere $.79 (one companies’ price for a bulk of 1000) on something that, in my opinion, is the hardest thing in DeMolay: Membership Recruitment. Many of us have overcome the hurdle of bringing in one new member, and in turn we were awarded with a distinction of honor, the Number 1 Pin. By handing out a silicone band, for the exemplary efforts young men to for this order, to me it’s saying here’s a small reward for your valiant efforts. Perhaps, we do need to change our ways and look into the future when it comes to rewarding young men for membership recruitment from DeMolay International, but are bracelets the right direction?

If membership is the most important thing in DeMolay (which, unarguably, it is), then we should not worry about the price (to an extent) for honoring those who gave back to DeMolay in the form of recruitment.
But, don’t base your opinions on my own. Formulate your own thoughts and reply back to this on what you think. If you want the International Master Councilor, the International Congress Secretary, and the Grand Master of DeMolay International to realize that we, the members, have a voice, then let us know your opinion and make a difference.

What do you think?


Bro. Matthew D. Blaisdell
State Master Councilor of Pennsylvania DeMolay
and Representative to the DeMolay International Congress


  1. I can appreciate the efforts of DeMolay International to “modernize” DeMolay, but I think changing the #1 pin is not the way to go about it. The idea behind the bracelet is to use to recognize a DeMolay for recruiting his first new member, as well as something he can wear to promote DeMolay in an everyday setting. All of these things seem to be positive, yet there is something missing. DeMolay International says the purpose of the Number One pin is:

    “#1 Lapel Pin: It's exciting to sign up your first new member. The #1 lapel pin recognizes this important achievement.”

    DeMolay International recognizes this as an important achievement, yet wants to take away the emphasis of the award. An award’s purpose is to recognize a brother for a great achievement, not to promote DeMolay in the public eye. Publicity is important, that is not in question. This may not be the best way to go about promoting it. An award, especially as a young DeMolay, is extremely meaningful to the young man. It would be a shame to devalue such an award.

    Another problem with the bracelet is the connotation that can come with it as well as the possible pairings with other silicon bracelets. Where some of the bracelets produced in the past (i.e Livestrong) have had very noble meanings, in recent years the bracelets have gone in a different direction. More and more there are these bracelets that have vulgar or suggestive messages (none of which will be repeated on here) on them or even a suggestive color scheme. This leads to the possible pairing of multiple bracelets. These types of bracelets are often worn together. DeMolay would not be represented well paired with possible vulgar messages.

    A third problem with the bracelet is the fact that it is particularly casual. Besides the apparent tawdriness of wearing silicon bracelets with a suit, there is a problem with being too casual. Being too casual can lead to laziness and the under appreciating of DeMolay which ultimately leads to the decline and even death of the program. DeMolay is anything but a trendy, casual program and should not be treated as such. The peculiar aspect of trends is that they come and go. I do not want DeMolay to be a trend, but for it to thrive continuously and be the consistent program that instills virtues into the young men of America and the world.

    Just some thoughts,


    Robert Marsters
    State Master Councilor of Virginia

    P.S Great article my brother!

  2. I believe that when reading this article we should read it without bias beginning with the first words. Bro. Blaisdell did a great job in composing all sides of the story before presenting his own opinion. Many on Facebook, as well as on here, have posted their own opinions.
    I think we should all look to the quote by IMC Bro. Max Shoemaker when he says: "However, DeMolay International would certainly work to supply those Jurisdictions who still prefer the pins with them as opposed to the bracelets." Hmm, it appears that DeMolay International is not getting rid of this program, instead it is creating a new approach that younger kids may enjoy. How many of you have seen a 12, 13, or 14 year old wearing a silicone bracelet in the past 6 months? Month? Week? Today? They are always wearing them! While as leaders, we may see them as more important to us, but to most 12 year olds, they're just metal! Give them something they can say "cool" to. They will wear that day and night. While it may be apparent "tawdriness" to wear a wristband with a suit, who hasn't done that before? I say let the kids choose what they want.

  3. Demolay International is trying to place focus upon this award, which to some receives little attention compared to the RD, or the Blue honor key. Remember that this Organization provides a consistent backbone to an ever changing audience. A brother today will be a majority member tomorrow. There will be new brothers to replace the old and with new members means newer meanings to old awards.

    Awards are there to show everyone what this boy has accomplished. In an environment where rubber bands trumps pins, ribbons and cordons, Demolay has the responsibility to evolve to follow its audience. If having a band around the wrist gets this generations attention then that is what needs to be done. Casual or not.

    Demolay International has voted to provide the wrist bands. It shouldn't be up to state level elected officials to make the decision to keep the pins. It should be up to the boy who has earned the award to make the decision. For him who has earned it has done a favor to our organization, he has recruited a new brother. If a silicone band is his way of showing his world, his environment what he has done, then so be it. Maybe others will see that band, see his character, and decide to join. If that band brings 1 single member, then it has been justified as an award.

    -Nick Cook
    PSMC of VA