The ritual and regalia of the armed forces can seem foreign and exotic at a glance. The truth is that there is a lot of complexity to military adornments, and that’s as true of ribbons as anything else. Military ribbons are smaller adornments meant to stand in for their comparable medals when wearing a traditional medal wouldn’t be feasible or appropriate. But that doesn’t make them any less prestigious. If you’re shopping for military ribbons, here are some of the most common ones you should know about.
The Distinguished Service Medal
One of the most common medals awarded is the distinguished service medal, but what makes it special is how unique each one is. This type of medal can be awarded to those who “distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility”. The ambiguous interpretation means that this medal can be achieved for a great number of different achievements, but it’s still reserved for truly exceptional achievements. The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, Navy, and the Department of Homeland Defense all award their own distinguished service medals.
The Distinguished Service Cross
While distinguished service medals tend to employ pretty simple patterns and color designs, service cross ribbons tend to be exceedingly more complex. While these two medals are very similar in intent, the distinguished service cross is exclusively awarded to those who distinguished themselves in the field of combat. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard all award distinguished service crosses.
While the distinguished service medal can apply to exceptional acts in or out of combat, there’s an understanding that serving in the military is about a great deal more than just fighting. The Airman’s Medal, Soldier’s Medal, Coast Guard Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Medal all fulfill a similar purpose of awarding those who serve exceptionally during peacetime. It’s a reminder that you can be a hero at any point in time.
Military ribbons are essentially a genealogy of an individual’s military service, and that means that they don’t simply remember bold acts of distinct heroism. These campaign and service medals are designed to recognize the role that soldiers played in unique and important points throughout history. The red, yellow, blue, and white National Defense Service Medal was created by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it’s awarded to anyone who served during a period of active war. That includes the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.
There are also individual ribbons for each of the four major American conflicts dating back to the Korean War. Additionally, these service medals have been extended to honor service members who took the “service” part of their identifier to heart. Thin ribbons are available for both the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal. Ribbons are also provided for more specialized involvements and for completing certain types of training.
Service Medals For Any Occasion
While those medals are some of the most common, it’s just scratching the surface of the full selection of medals and ribbons that the military services award to their members. If you’re looking for thin military ribbons to buy online, authenticity and quality should be a priority. So should variety. USAMM’s catalog of ribbons is exhaustive, and it covers everything from special expeditionary ribbons to weapon proficiency ribbons to Legion of Merit honors. Whether you’re looking to honor a veteran family member with a new shadow box or you’re simply a collector, you can find any military thin ribbons you could hope for.