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Why don't Americans Wear their Medals?

Started by Wharfmaster , Jan 05 2012 10:15 AM

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#1 Wharfmaster

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:15 AM

I would bet most of us have US medal groups that are in mint, in the box (FS), never worn condition. Do we Americans consider wearing decorations and medals "showing off"? Or, is it because it is not required?

Go to Britain sometime. Anyone in any sort of uniform both civil and military wears their ribbons and/or medals daily.

What do you think?


Regards to all.


The Wharfmaster




In Peace and War. US Merchant Marine.

#2 rr01

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:31 AM

In 2006 the various services issued additional directives regarding the appropriate wear of medals while in civilian clothes. Prior to that the wear had been limited primarily to retirees and other select folks. Soon afterward I saw this photo of Mickey Rooney and no matter how you feel about the guy it is gratifying to see him with his medals in a sea of celebrities who will "never know the true meaning of freedom".

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#3 67Rally

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:35 AM

While on active duty, I can count on two fingers the times that I wore my medals. I wore my ribbons anytime I was in dress uniform and while I was a corrections officer at the navy brig - in working whites/blues.

Since I left the navy, my ribbons and medals have sat in a drawer (haphazardly, mind you) until I decided to put some of them along with other uniform accouterments into a shadow box.

I have no desire to wear them...anywhere...period. I don't disparage those who do (loads of VN Vet friends of mine wear mini/pin versions daily) as I know the reason (to spark conversation in order to speak about our vet's group).

I've been to weddings, funerals, change of command ceremonies, navy/army retirement ceremonies, etc. as a civilian and have never even entertained the idea of attaching my decorations to my suit jacket.

Now...why? Stating it plainly...I am embarrassed...not by the decorations I received or that I served, but that I feel like people view it as "showing off" or being an attention-whore. I don't judge others with that thinking...just myself. So, they stay on my wall enclosed behind glass.

In addition, I have no valor medals or any sort of high-achievement/accomplishments that would warrant any manner of attention. ;) I'll save that for those with the 'Stars and other decorations of note.

#4 Sabrejet

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:37 AM

Proudly worn by British vets... on parade.

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#5 Bob Hudson

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:55 AM

I think it is just a cultural difference. The United States did not have the kind of pomp and circumstance of the European nations whereby every member of the ruling royal family wore uniforms, where civilians in government were routinely awarded various gaudy medals, and where retired officers went through retired life going by their military rank (that happens once in a while in the US, but it's rare for someone who wasn't, say, a three-star general).

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#6 Dave

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:59 AM

I wouldn't even consider wearing mine unless someone specifically asked me to. I agree with FS...it's a cultural thing. (Plus, I have nothing to really show off...two rows of..."oh, I got to float around, fight pirates, and sit behind a desk...yawn...") :lol:

#7 Sabrejet

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:11 AM

Male members of the British Royal Family traditionally serve in the military. The Duke of Edinburgh actively served in the RN in WW2. Prince Andrew flew Navy helicopters during the Falklands War. Prince William is currently a serving officer in the RAF. Prince Harry served in a combat unit in Afghanistan. Prince Charles is not a combat vet but he did command an RN Corvette and qualified as an Army pilot.

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Edited by Sabrejet, 05 January 2012 - 11:13 AM.


#8 67Rally

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:17 AM

Prince Charles is not a combat vet but he did command an RN Corvette and qualified as an Army pilot.


I can understand that. But do the Brits really hand out medals for piloting/commanding these?
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(kidding...sorry, I couldn't resist).

#9 Sabrejet

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:20 AM

That's precisely why I edited and inserted "RN" before "Corvette". I knew it would be lost in translation otherwise! ;)

#10 Nic

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:20 AM

While on active duty, I can count on two fingers the times that I wore my medals. I wore my ribbons anytime I was in dress uniform and while I was a corrections officer at the navy brig - in working whites/blues.

Since I left the navy, my ribbons and medals have sat in a drawer (haphazardly, mind you) until I decided to put some of them along with other uniform accouterments into a shadow box.

I have no desire to wear them...anywhere...period. I don't disparage those who do (loads of VN Vet friends of mine wear mini/pin versions daily) as I know the reason (to spark conversation in order to speak about our vet's group).

I've been to weddings, funerals, change of command ceremonies, navy/army retirement ceremonies, etc. as a civilian and have never even entertained the idea of attaching my decorations to my suit jacket.

Now...why? Stating it plainly...I am embarrassed...not by the decorations I received or that I served, but that I feel like people view it as "showing off" or being an attention-whore. I don't judge others with that thinking...just myself. So, they stay on my wall enclosed behind glass.

In addition, I have no valor medals or any sort of high-achievement/accomplishments that would warrant any manner of attention. ;) I'll save that for those with the 'Stars and other decorations of note.



All I can say is DITTO! :thumbsup:

#11 67Rally

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:40 AM

That's precisely why I edited and inserted "RN" before "Corvette". I knew it would be lost in translation otherwise! ;)



:lol: I caught that...I understood the Royal Navy reference...but I still had to do it.

Btw - I meant nothing disparaging toward our Brit counterparts. I have ancestors and relatives who served in the in your army/navy.

#12 Jack's Son

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:52 AM

I would love to see rosettes worn by our servicemen, current and retired. :thumbsup: CLASS ACT!

#13 Harvs73

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:18 PM

Some of my own medals are still in the box as I have replaced them with reproduction medals. The originals sit in the safe and don't come out generally as they are expensive (they do get stolen) and I don't wish them to be damaged. The possibility of the medals getting stolen or damaged at Mess functions, Anzac day or any other time I have to wear them is not worth the small amount of $$$ that it costs to get repro's done up. When you also consider that my fathers medals are worth a few thousand $$ and I wear them at Anzac day I sure am not going to wear the original.

#14 Jack's Son

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:29 PM

But, at least you wear them, (although they are replacements!) :thumbsup:

Edited by Jack's Son, 05 January 2012 - 12:31 PM.


#15 Allan H.

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:41 PM

I think that there is a difference between the British and the US in the sheer number of awards given out. I once worked with a Warrant in the Welsh Guards with 20 plus years of service. I recall his medal bar distinctly as he had THREE medals which included awards from Northern Ireland and the Faulklands (he was on a helicopter that had just taken off when the HMS Gallihad was attacked). I was a young 2nd LT in the US Army, but already had an Army Achievement medal and ribbons for completing basic training and one for being overseas, so I had the same number of ribbons on my uniform with a mere 19 fewer years of service. :pinch:

I occassionally think of that Warrant as I would assume that he made it to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and thus added one more (maybe two) gongs to his medal bar. After I got back, I had more ribbons and medals than the Commanding General of the 89th ARCOM. :blink:

I think that Americans don't wear their medals because we have som many our shirts and jackets would tear from the weight! :lol:

I got my minis mounted to wear to Dave's wedding and have worn them at a few other military functions. I wouldn't wear them if I hadn't spent the money to get them mounted.
Allan

Edited by Allan H., 05 January 2012 - 12:42 PM.


#16 JBFloyd

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:42 PM

I think my full size medals are in the sock drawer. I wear my miniatures to the dinner at the OMSA convention and that's about it.

I have a set of miniature ribbon bars which I attach to my name tag at militaria shows where I have a table. They serve two functions: (1) they start conversations [When were you there?]; (2) ever since I started wearing them, I don't have to listen to the 400-pound bozo in woodland pattern BDUs and orthopedic shoes, who wants to tell me that he was a sniper, LRRP, Special Forces guy attached to the Phoenix Program, Delta Force, Special Air Service and Mossad.

#17 teufelhunde.ret

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:50 PM

I think it is just a cultural difference. The United States did not have the kind of pomp and circumstance of the European nations whereby every member of the ruling royal family wore uniforms, where civilians in government were routinely awarded various gaudy medals, and where retired officers went through retired life going by their military rank (that happens once in a while in the US, but it's rare for someone who wasn't, say, a three-star general).

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Agree

#18 67Rally

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:52 PM

...ever since I started wearing them, I don't have to listen to the 400-pound bozo in woodland pattern BDUs and orthopedic shoes, who wants to tell me that he was a sniper, LRRP, Special Forces guy attached to the Phoenix Program, Delta Force, Special Air Service and Mossad.


Sheesh...that's reason enough...however, I've seen this (first hand) work the opposite. Stupid wannabes trying to belong make stuff up to fit in come up to start conversations, not thinking that people see right through them.

#19 HoovieDude

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:53 PM

I have to agree with the ideas of it being a combination of culture and being humble about it to begin with. Most guys I know, myself included, like to keep their service "bling" to a minimum, if worn at all. While recognition is important in general, it personally has always embarrassed me in many ways. I didn't even like the attention it brought when being presented something in front of the unit during the "awards formations" many are familiar with. It seems like the posers, walts are the ones who like to bring attention to themselves with the concept of service to the public at large with all the bling, and stories. At most I see on a daily basis in regards to advertising it, would be the various campaign/awards "hat pins", lapel pins, etc.. license plate and the window/bumper sticker on their ride. Or, on the various vet's organizations uniforms and headwear, which is where you will see the miniature medals, etc.. Most civvies wouldn't recognize a Bronze Star from a Elks Club pendant anyway, and in my opinion, it has much to do with the fact the US hasn't seen the wholesale devastation of war on its soil since our civil war, and military service, while appreciated by many, has no real connection to the American people at large since the end of WW2/Korea. Although entitled to still wear my uniform in all its glory, it has been gathering dust since I last used it before retirement, and would still need to be upgraded to reflect the proper status of everything. Thats one reason why I opted out of the posts "Retirement Ceremony" when I left, and instead just kinda faded away. Wouldn't fit anyway by now :lol:

Edited by HoovieDude, 05 January 2012 - 12:57 PM.


#20 rr01

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:00 PM

Personally, I am not inclined to wear mine but I DO have a tie in the design of my most senior decoration. My reason is extremely personal and is unlikely to change. I agree seeing the way the British vets display their service is outstanding and I have a Canadian friend who does the same. We in this nation have an aversion to such displays and making the change will take many, many years.
I apologize for digressing here but I cannot think about something like this without also considering how much less we offer to the men & women who are lost as they make their final trip to that "last foxhole". Please understand that I applaud you on my feet for opening this discussion but we should look just across our northern border and adapt the Canadian way of venerating these families as they make that last trip with the one they lost:
That being said, thank you for your thoughtfulness.

#21 Sabrejet

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:09 PM

Whilst I applaud the modesty displayed by those of you who are entitled to wear you medals/ribbons, but rarely do, what about the practice of wearing the discreet enamelled lapel pins as supplied with boxed medals? Also, by way of contrast, whenever I see a senior US general give a tv press conference, or whatever, they always seem to be wearing more ribbons and brass than a Soviet Marshall!

#22 67Rally

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:12 PM

As I've watched the posts add in, I looked back through the years at my veteran family members and am unable to recall a single individual who wore any decoration.

I think that US veterans possess a certain type of humility (not to say that other nations' vets aren't humble) that runs counter to our culture's flashy-look-at-me mentality. Veterans are typically humble when it comes to self...yet self-sacrificing in duty and for our brothers-in-arms back in the world. This is difficult for the general population to grasp as Americans constantly provide their work/life-resumes in introductory conversations (at dinner parties and elsewhere).

#23 DMD

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:31 PM

There were very few US medals prior to the 20th century. When the United States established its independence, we did not want to retain the trappings of the european aristocracy.

#24 Dave

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:35 PM

Whilst I applaud the modesty displayed by those of you who are entitled to wear you medals/ribbons, but rarely do, what about the practice of wearing the discreet enamelled lapel pins as supplied with boxed medals? Also, by way of contrast, whenever I see a senior US general give a tv press conference, or whatever, they always seem to be wearing more ribbons and brass than a Soviet Marshall!



I have my enamel lapel pins, but honestly my highest award was a Navy Commendation (of course, several of them) and that's chump change to other awards. I'd be kind of embarrassed wearing it. Now if I got a Silver Star or something.... :think:

I worked for a retired admiral who used to wear three ribbons on his lapel...his Navy DSM, SS, and DFC. They got trashed though and had to be replaced every three months or so. I finally got a set of the mini ribbons (like Jeff Floyd has) made for him, but unfortunately as soon as they were done the admiral passed away and never wore them (I keep them in my collection in his memory).

Dave

#25 swabbie

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 05:12 PM

I have worn my miniatures on several occasions (on suit jackets or sport coats). If memory serves, the large medals can only legally be worn on the dress uniform. I have been well aware of the UK policy and completely agree with it. It is sad that in this great nation that we can't wear our full size medals on proper civilian dress jackets. Perhaps wearing of the full sized medals create too much noise and violates some EPA rule. I'm surprised that the cleaners of America haven't banded together to push the change. They stand to make some bucks pressing the jackets after the owners have worn more than three or four of the full sized medals.


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