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Military Medals: A Complete Guide

It’s never an easy experience to serve your country. Whether you are deployed overseas or working remotely, there will be stress involved.

If you or someone you know is a veteran or currently serving, show them your respect with a military medal. You probably know a veteran or currently serving member. Make sure they know how much you appreciate their service with a military medal.

Keep reading to learn more about military medals and why they are important.

Understanding Military Medals

Military medals have a long and proud history. Dating back thousands of years, military medals have been awarded to recognize exemplary service, heroic acts, and special achievements of members of the military. Not only are they used to recognize an individual’s actions, but also to honor their service to their country.

In modern times, a military medal is awarded by governments and heads of state as a way to recognize outstanding acts of courage or heroism in military or civilian service. They are often given to those who have demonstrated loyalty and bravery in the armed forces and have upheld the highest standards of service.

Types of Military Awards and Badges

There are different levels of awards and badges. Each military branch has its own list of honors and acknowledgments, giving its members their own unique awards. Below are some of the types of medals.

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is one of the most prestigious military medals in the world. It is the highest award for valor in combat for US military service personnel, awarded for acts of bravery or selflessness above and beyond the call of duty.

It has a distinctive heart shape and a navy blue ribbon, with thirteen white stars representing the thirteen original colonies. It is most commonly presented in a presentation box to the recipient and their family.

Joint Service Commendation Medal

The Joint Service Commendation Medal is one of the top awards that can be bestowed upon a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. To qualify for the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the individual or group must have accomplished their duties with the highest standards of excellence and with a profound devotion to the mission.

The Joint Service Commendation Medal is one of the highest awards of recognition for military operations. It denotes a significant achievement and an award for special service or outstanding humanitarian service. It is one of the most highly sought-after awards that any individual or group can achieve.

Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is one of the oldest and most recognizable Military Medals. It is usually awarded to members of the US Armed Forces who got wounded in action by an enemy force and is presented by the President of the United States. The medal dates back to 1782.

It symbolizes the bravery, courage, and patriotism of those who have been wounded in battle. The medal is also a reminder to current and future members of the military of the sacrifices of their predecessors. It is a highly respected award.

United Nations Medal

The United Nations Medal is for those who have served under the United Nations in a variety of peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around the world. The medal is typically awarded to those members of the Armed Forces who participate in a limited number of United Nations actions, such as maintaining an armistice and resolving disputes.

To be eligible for the United Nations Medal, an individual must have served honorably and faithfully for a minimum period of 180 days in a peacekeeping operation directly supervised by the United Nations.

Understanding Medal Hierarchy

The medal hierarchy comprises orders, decorations, and awards. Orders are an elite category, presented in recognition of exceptional achievements, such as saving a comrade’s life at great personal risk. Orders are more prestigious than decorations, which recognize gallantry and bravery in the face of danger.

And are typically awarded as medals, pins, or commendation certificates. Understanding the medal hierarchy allows anyone to decipher the true worth of a medal and the great level of sacrifice associated with it. Below are the awards in order of precedence.

Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest award given for bravery in the face of the enemy. This coveted medal of honor was instituted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1856 and is typically seen as being the closest thing the UK has to the US Medal of Honor.

George Cross

The George Cross is one of the most prestigious and highest honors a member of the British armed forces can receive. The award was created in 1940 by George VI as a way to recognize extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice and bravery in unwarranted circumstances.

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

This medal is open to any member of the armed services who has performed an act of gallantry or sacrificed his/her life during a conflict. The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the British military and is the equivalent of the ‘Victoria Cross’, which is the highest honor for bravery in the British Empire.

Etiquette for Wearing Military Medals

When it comes to etiquette for wearing medals, there are several guidelines to follow. The most important consideration is to ensure they are in the correct order. Medals must be placed with the highest rank of honor, showing first and others following in descending order chronologically.

Also, ribbons should be in the same fashion, with the first medal always placed over the left breast and any subsequent ones over the right. Special consideration should be in place when wearing a variety of decorations and awards, following the conventions of the particular military outfit. Some would even wear a saint for military spiritual protection.

Learn More About Military Medals

Military medals are an amazing way to show appreciation and recognize accomplishments within the Armed Forces. They are a symbol of strength, courage, and commitment to service. Whether you are a collector, an enthusiast, or a recipient, the ability to fully understand them is an invaluable tool.

Take the time to understand the history of the medal and its significance. Look into researching the individual medal, its criteria, and how to care for them. The knowledge you gain is worth its weight in gold!

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