With the recent election and inauguration, there has been a noticeable increase in patriotism and support for the US. Along with that inevitably comes changes in fashion and shopping trends. Most noticeably, is the increased number of people (politicians and civilians, alike) wearing American flag pins. So we thought we would provide a little history behind the wearing of flag pins, so that you can stay informed and ahead of the trend.
The most popular story about the origin of lapel pins dates back to the American Civil War era. Then, all of the different battle units had their own custom lapel pins that they wore in order to distinguish one unit from another. It served a utilitarian purpose so that the individual units could all stay organized and immediately recognize their own unit and the others as well. It also helped promote comradery amongst the men and they were very popular. The soldiers tended to wear them for many years after the war ended whenever they dressed up for a formal occasion.
During the World Wars I and II
Military commanders during the world wars changed the meaning of the lapel pins when they began giving them for special exemplary service. At that time, they were mostly bars and ribbons with less decorative metal emblems as they had been in the Civil War. In the US military, they still award special lapel pins to those that have done things above and beyond the call of duty. The pins themselves have become collectors’ items with the rarer pins bringing large sums at auctions and sales.
Many family members of fallen soldiers value the pins far more for their sentimental value than their dollar value. The pins are often cherished and placed in display cases for many generations to admire. There are also plenty of war stories told and handed down through the years to each new generation of children so they’ll understand the impact of war and the bravery of their ancestors.
The US Flag Lapel Pin Has Its Own Special Meaning
The flag lapel pins have different meanings to different people and all have their reasons for wearing them. Many very patriotic citizens wear the pins as a showing of solidarity with our armed forces. Many US veterans also wear the pins whenever they go out or dress for special occasions. It not only shows solidarity but can also be a conversation starter with others that are doing the same.
When it comes to politicians, the history of wearing the US flag lapel pin is a little different. While it is still a sign of patriotism, is has also become a must-wear item for any aspiring politician due to previous accusations and innuendos of the past. Basically, any politician that wants to get elected will most likely have to wear the pin or be labeled unpatriotic. It has even been said that those that don’t wear the US flag pins actually scorn the flag and that’s the reason why.
Some of the people that decided not to wear the pins believe that just wearing the pin and not being particularly patriotic in your daily life was being hypocritical. However, being patriotic in your life meant more than just wearing the pin, but doing things to better the country instead. There was and will continue to be plenty of debate about the US flag pins as time goes on and opinions change.
President Obama was once criticized during a debate for not loving America since he wasn’t wearing a US flag lapel pin. Obama mentioned that it seemed like lots of people wore the pins after the 9/11 attacks but weren’t acting patriotic at all. He went on to say that telling people how they could do things to help the country and their fellow American citizens was a much more patriotic way to behave. And, that just donning a pin every day and calling yourself patriotic was diluting the meaning of the pins.
However, you feel about lapel pins they are here to stay, and many different charities and causes have developed their own pins as well. Wearing pins has many different meaning to different people and there are sure to be debates in the future again as one person’s opinion about them collides with another.