The Ultimate Sacrifice: The Meaning Behind Military Pins
You don’t need a special occasion to celebrate our troops who make the ultimate sacrifice with their commitment. Explore the benefits of gifting military pins.
In Japan, lawyers or bengoshi now sport lapel pins (kisho) to signify their seniority and expertise as lawyers.
These badges are technically owned by the Japanese Federation Bar Association and “lent” to these lawyers, subject to disbarring, criminal conduct and other career-ending circumstances. What at first glance, may appear like a 16 petalled chrysanthemum is actually a sunflower, proudly fronting these lapels. A unique attorney number lies behind this regal front.
In the U.S.A, these military pins represent something else. As more of a military novelty, these pins are used to signify the ranks of soldiers and the unit they belong to.
However, while their official uses may vary across continents and countries, the symbolism is universal. The lapel pin has proudly evolved to represent camaraderie, affiliation, loyalty, patriotism, and unity.
These badges of honor symbolize a brotherhood of sorts among people. They signify a common cause, a common honor or in some cases, a common brand.
And they do it with sheer class.
The Origin of Military Pins: Exploring the Evolution
During the battles of the middle ages, knights would often find themselves separated from their own kin. At some point, inspiration struck and these knights began painting their shields in feudal colors in order to establish their identities among themselves.
And thus the principle of recognition and identity through an accessory was first established. This eventually (albeit indirectly) paved the way for the popularization of the lapel pin.
It was the civil war that first popularised the use of lapel pins in the U.S.A. Each military unit required their soldiers to wear a brass pin with their unit numbers on them, in order to be able to know which unit they belonged to. As a natural transgression, these lapel pins with their distinctive numbers grew to build a sense of brotherhood and loyalty among the units.
As world war I came around, this changed. The lapel pin was no longer a common accessory amongst comrades. Instead, receiving a lapel pin was a meritorious achievement, and only a select few were given this honor for their exceptional service.
Eventually, there were also special lapel pins handed to the close relatives of deceased soldiers.
Soon this reached civilians, and now anyone can sport a lapel whether its a matter of demonstrating their loyalty, patriotism or simply a personal statement. Military pins are now a full-blown industry.
Some General Terminology
While the military services may have varying styles of their badges (or pins) some of the terminologies remains common. This terminology is referenced in each of the services’ uniform regulations.
- Breast Insignia: These badges are worn directly above ribbons or medals. Insignia itself is a pin-on accessory made from metal.
- Identification Badges: These are worn at a uniform’s breast pocket level
- Marksmanship Badges: These are usually worn below the ribbons on the uniform
The Variants and What They Mean
Each of the military’s five services maintains their own lapels. These being the Army, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Coast Guard.
- The Army: The Army pins are categorized as marksmanship, combat and special skill, identification and foreign.
- The Airforce: Aviation badges are awarded at three different levels, each signifying the seniority of the individual.
- The Marine: These include breast insignia (aviation, diver, etc.), identification badges and marksmanship. The marksmanship badges can differ based on the variations in weapon qualifications and other achievements.
- The Navy: These badges are regulated by the U.S Navy Uniform Regulations and are classified into identification badges and breast insignia. The latter are further divided into command, warfare and other qualifications.
- The Coast Guard: These are issued by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to these specialized badges, they are also authorized to receive badges from the U.S Navy as well as the Department of Defense.
The Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor rests at the top of its hierarchy. It is the topmost honor for anyone serving in any of the military services and is presented to them by the President of the United States on the 25th of March (National Medal of Honor Day).
This is awarded in recognition and gratitude for having served the nation above and beyond expectations. It is a mark of exceptional bravery, loyalty and everything that the military stands for.
This pin knows three variants for the Army, the Navy and the Airforce. However, members of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard can be awarded the one created for the Navy.
With their use becoming increasingly commonplace, corporates, societies, clubs and other group-oriented organizations use their own customized pins too!
A Corporate Transition with a Purpose
Given its profound associations with the U.S military, the lapel pin has evolved to represent something larger than itself. The reason its use has grown so widespread is due to the sense of unity and common cause that it creates.
Corporate employees find comfort in feeling like they are a part of a larger brethren, a cause bigger than them. This sense of belonging, loyalty, and unity is something that organizations and corporations often want, but otherwise, fail to achieve.
It also doesn’t hurt that lapel pins or military pins add an incomparable touch of elegance to any corporate outfit, allowing for these businesses to achieve brand awareness in the classiest way.
Inspired? Check out our range of customizable lapel pins for your own business, event, fundraiser or anything under the sun!