You can’t pin this one on me…

I don’t want readers of this blog to think it’s all about Rotary regalia – but it seems that since I wrote my last couple of posts on the wearing of presidential and governors chains have hit a few bullseyes. As, in the last few days I have received a few posts and emails regarding the general wearing of regalia.

My attention was drawn to a post sent to me titled “A reason to wear your Rotary pin“.

The piece was written by By Ron Nethercutt, past chair of the Rotarians on the Internet Fellowship and a member of the Rotary Club of Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines.


Ron retold a story of a visit to New Orleans when he was approached and thanked by a complete stranger. When he asked if they have met before – she explains that she thanks every Rotarian she meets for what Rotary has done for her.

It got me thinking about my thoughts on the Rotary pin versus my views on the Presidential chain.

I have to say, I am far more relaxed about the wearing of the pin and admit that on occasion I will wear one (well I now have a Past President’s one don’t you know). The reason I wear it on occasion is simply due to the fact that I only have one and have it on a certain jacket not tending to transfer it between my vast and regularly changing wardrobe.

That said, in nearly ten years of wearing my Rotary lapel badge I have never been approached by a stranger (Rotarian or otherwise) any time to thank me or ask me what it was all about. Which is interesting, because you’ll find at least half a dozen examples of people who’s pin has prompted some kind of positive reaction in the follow-up response to Ron’s own blog post.

I did some research on the wearing of pins and found an interesting article which explained that the first lapel pin in the history of the Rotary was designed and made by New York Rotary Club member, John Frick on October 14, 1909 and worn by the club’s first president Bradford Bullock from 1909 until his premature death in 1911.

There have been Rotary pins ever since following the style and design of the actual Rotary International  emblem. (I understand from sources that the current pin will remain and won’t necessarily be changed to accommodate the new Rotary International branding. Has anyone told the marketeers that new badges become desirable to collectors ergo people source them ergo people buy them ergo more income for the organisation…? Yes probably…so just remember you saw it here first on RotaryBlogger.)

Another interesting comment I stumbled upon was that of Past RI President Bob Barth (1993-94, from the Rotary Club of Aarau, Switzerland) who felt that a Rotary pin says this about the wearer: “You can rely on me, I am dependable, I am reliable, I give more than I take, and I am available.”

I am sure many Rotarians wear their pins with pride. But I wonder how many Rotarian wearing their badges would agree with Bob and could honestly stand up, be counted and say without question they can be relied upon; were dependable; give more than they take and that they are ready, willing and able – whenever you wanted them…?

Maybe you should give this quote to your Club representative the next time the have to round-up a dozen volunteers from the Club to marshall the next big event in your town or city and they can go around and see how many of your members are wearing their pins that day.

Image – ‘Shaking Hands‘ by Nicola Corboy under CC
Information source:

6 thoughts on “You can’t pin this one on me…

  1. Catherine Chorley says:

    I like the Bob Barth quote and was first introduced to it by Gordon McInally. I don’t think the general public see wearing of a Rotary pin as identifying Rotarians with the qualities Barth mentions. In fact I don’t think the vast majority of the public recognise the Rotary wheel. I think Barth’s comment is addressed to Rotarians to encourage and motivate. But an interesting point. One of my young Rotary friends recently bumped into a chap in a coffee bar in Dunfermline. He was wearing a tee shirt with the Rotary wheel so she introduced herself and they had a chat. Can’t remember where he came from but there was a bit of a language barrier. Nevertheless, two Rotarians got chatting.

  2. Caroline Dobson says:

    No problem with the symbol. But it is a lapel pin. How often do most of us wear clothes with lapels these days? Only time I wear a suit is to special Rotary meetings. Another hangover from old male business Rotary. I got more use out of the plastic button with “we are for communities” on it.

  3. Mike Thorn says:

    Doesn’t matter whether it’s a pin of badge or embroidered logo – or for that matter a crocus. I have had people asking me more when wearing a crocus or large T-Shirt badge. But have now a large pin – some 2-3 times larger – else no one can really see it. It also doesnt matter to wear to Rotary meetings, it is outside of Rotary meetings that is important.

  4. I have retweeted and posted Ron Nethercutt’s story to good effect (I think)

    I have worn my lapel badge for years with pride and not once been asked about it. Recently I was given a “Kingpin” by the current RIBIPresident which is an interesting one. In fact I got one because I saw it on my PDG and asked him about it.

    What i have found interesting is that not even any Rotarian has asked me what it is … I cannot think that many know what it is … I wore it because it was slightly different and thought I might get asked!

    Hasn’t happened so far though so does that mean we put more value individually than the stories say? Shame if so.

  5. Non Rotarian says:

    As a non Rotarian, the lapel pin badges are not about promoting rotary but are to allow Rotarians to identify each other from 50 paces. If they were to promote, they would be more informative and compelling. They are actually just a calling beacon for the rotary family!

  6. Bill Ferguson says:

    Whenever I travel and see someone wearing a rotary badge I always say hello and ask about their club, sometimes it leads to a short exchange other times it has led to mutual help or a helpful connection. Don’t forget rotary is the oldest networking organisation

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