The United States Armed Forces are an integral part of the American society and the history of America. We learn about great military feats and losses in history class. We celebrate the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. It’s even become a tradition to honor soldiers at random crowded events like sports games. We also have taken to displaying our gratitude for the sacrifice and service by wearing beautiful military lapel pins.
No matter what you picture when you think of military lapel pins, if you’ve ever considered or are considering wearing one at any time in your life, it’s important to recognize their significance, know how to use them properly, and maybe learn a few fun facts about them to make you that much more proud to be American. So, let’s discuss five things you should know about U.S. military lapel pins!
There Is a Right (And Wrong) Way to Wear Military Lapel Pins
The average person may not realize this, but there is a proper way to wear military pins. In fact, even if it’s just a simple American flag, there’s still a right and wrong way. So, before you go stabbing that pin through your shirt in a patriotic frenzy, think about what you’re doing first.
Interestingly, the United States Flag Code is super nitpicky about pin-wearing and you should consult the code or suffer the consequences of improper pin etiquette. The code states that when wearing an American flag pin, it should be worn on the left lapel—or, if you don’t have a lapel, over your left breast—so it rests just over the heart. With all other pins, veterans and honorably discharged members of the U.S. Armed forces are encouraged to wear their military lapel pins over their civilian clothing on commemorative occasions like Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Veterans Day.
Military Pins Started as a Logistical Benefit
Way back in the old days of the Civil War, many army units were so large that soldiers from different groups were often mixed up, lost, or not able to recognize their fellow unit buddies. This is where lapel pins came into play. The pins were made with each man’s unit number on it, that way it was harder for soldiers to get lost while trekking across large areas among hundreds of other men.
Little did we know the other, more lasting effect this had on the United States Armed Forces and American public: that of camaraderie. Today, military pins have evolved into a way Americans and fellow soldiers and veterans show their collective pride for the sacrifices being made every day.
Each Branch Has Its Own Official Logo
When you’re searching for pins or creating custom ones to show your pride, don’t settle for an “off-brand” one. Take time and make careful consideration regarding your pin. For example, each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own official logo, meaning there is an “on-brand” way to create your pin. It might be a good idea to look up pictures of each branch’s logo, but for now, here are some descriptions to inspire you:
- Army: A white star with a yellow outline and black accents
- Air Force: Dubbed the “Arnold”; wings and a star
- Marine Corps: The famous Eagle, Globe, and Anchor
- Navy: An Eagle spreading its wings
- Coast Guard: Two anchors crossed over each other with a life ring and shield on top of it
Military Lapel Pins Are Now Used to Mark Status
Although lapel pins for the military started for logistical reasons during the Civil War, nowadays, they aren’t given to just anyone. While you can purchase famous and fabled pins, the real deal are awarded to those members of the military who made great achievements, were lost to battle, or who are promoted up the ranks. Some famous examples include the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals, the Air Force’s Prop and Wings, and the Navy SEAL’s Trident.
There Are More Military Lapel Pins Than You Think
While there are some famous examples—like the ones mentioned above—there are undoubtedly countless other kinds of pins you’ve probably never even heard of. For instance, the U.S. Army has pins for five different special skill groups with anywhere from two to ten pins in each category—and they have pins for three more categories! The Air Force alone has pins for categories like Aeronautical, Aircrew, Operations, Logistics, Support, and more. Don’t underestimate the number of options out there for pins! Read this post if you want to learn more about all the pins in each branch of the military.
So, now you’re ready to make your decision! What kind of pin will you buy? Who do you know that deserves one of these pins? How can you show your pride for the U.S. military? Go forth and create your military lapel pins—and keep in mind the true meaning behind the process.