Wearing a lapel pin has become a common expression of patriotism and allegiance. Be it the traditional American flag pin, or something more specific to the cause, such as a Marine Corps pin, these remembrances are not only a common sight in our American culture; they’re also a comfort to those who see and wear them. But surprisingly, their prominence in our society only goes as far back as the Civil War.
During America’s turbulent Civil War, soldiers took to wearing a small brass pin that would be struck with his unit number upon it. The primary reason behind this was to help keep units organized during long journeys across the country. Oftentimes a solider would not be familiar with his entire unit, so having the pin provided an easy way to recognize his brethren as they spread out across the land. The only problem was that the pins were so small that in combat situations it was nearly impossible to read them unless you were nearly upon him. Still, an unintentional but much more lasting effect cropped up from their introduction: that of camaraderie. Units garnered pride and unity from wearing the pins, wearing them proudly even after the war had finished, as symbolic reminders of their comrades-in-arms.
This previously unintended influence did not decline after the war was concluded, but instead built itself up into the practice we see today of decorating our military men and women for their brave acts in times of need. By the time of World War One, an array of lapel pins were being used in ceremonies and given to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, from Army pins, to Marine Corp pins, Navy pins, to an Air Force pin, their significance to those who received them was of extreme honor and pride.
Military pins have become an industry in themselves, created for fundraising, rallies, and reunions, amongst other things. And despite their increasing diversity, they have the amazing ability to bring us all together for a common cause, help us celebrate our past, and be hopeful for the future. Nowadays, the culture of military pins has grown to encompass everyone that the military touches through their service for our country. And as long as our military continues to champion our causes, military lapel pins will continue to celebrate the selfless job they do.
For anyone in the modern age, it’s hard to imagine the president not wearing an American flag lapel pin, especially when addressing the country over issues of security and defense. Presidents have worn lapel pins religiously as far back as Richard Nixon back in 1968. As a country, we are never more patriotic than when we send brave young men and women into the far corners of the world to fight for our protection and the betterment of all.