Skip to comments.Ribbon and Tin
Posted on 08/13/2014 8:44:31 PM PDT by EC1
Medals mean jack. I got a tobacco tin full of them going back a bunch of generations. They made no one's life better. Didn't put food on the table. A lot of them are of the "I was there" variety. Nothing exotic. No life or death charges, just people wanting not to die and usually succeeding.
Yesterday I was privileged to watch the awarding of a DSO. It's a rare thing, a bit like the Medal of Honor, except you bleed for it but keep on breathing. Our only higher award is the Victoria Cross. That tends to be given posthumously. The English are odd like that. Want the highest accolade the country bestows? Sorry, mate, you got to die to get it. There are few willing candidates, for obvious reasons.
So why bother? I certainly don't wear mine, ever. I consider ribbon boards a bit ridiculous, to say the least. You see a General or Admiral and you think "Holy Moley, you could paper a room with that thing." It means nothing. Yet it means everything at the same time.
People like to be recognized. My Dad is probably prouder of his Singapore medal than he is of his DSM. He made a difference there. Sure, his difference was shooting a terrorist with a concrete rocket (accidentally), but still - it makes for a good story if you pour a few beers into him. When he got his medal last year, I have no idea who were prouder. Him on the dais, or me 5 rows back. Mom even cracked a smile, which is commonly considered the harbinger of the end times.
They are just bits of ribbon and tin. In themselves they mean nothing. The stories behind them mean everything.
The ribbon and tin is a symbol of the story behind it.
Respect the symbol, respect the story.
Guess I missed the excerpt..........*S*
I think that it was the technical advisor for “The Black Sheep Squadron” who said, paraphrased, “With that medal and 50 cents I can catch the bus”.
However, one does have to respect the background story.
I have always felt that every service person who gave their life in battle for America deserves the Medal of Honor. I know many will argue against this idea. But it’s the way I feel. And what I believe.
The medal I'm most proud of is the Louisiana Emergency Service Ribbon I got for going to LA to help out after Katrina.
They already got it, where it counts. Though I’d like to see a medal specifically for “Giving up his/her life for their country.” Their brothers and sisters who survived. A bunch of amazing and patriotic people who, for one reason or another, couldn’t serve. Not one of us forgets them. That is as it should be.
It’s the stories that fascinate me. I never met my Grandfather on my dad’s side. He died the year before I was born. I have his medals though. He has a Ypres medal. So I asked my uncle about it. Apparently, that “I was there” was given to a guy who was there with a horse and cart and no weapon, delivering food, ammo and water to the trenches no matter how heavy the shelling got. That little bit of ribbon and tin - which is all it is - is a constant reminder that my grand dad was a bit of a bada$$ on the quiet. Someone to live up to.
One odd thing I did notice. Most people are happy enough to tell the stories of other medal holders, but depreciate their own.
Every ribbon tells a story, if they could only talk.
That is awesome.
And thank you. You stepped up.
Concrete rocket? Anyway, I worked with a guy whose dad was US Army in Italy in WW 2. One night he was guarding a supply dump with a Winchester 12 gauge and killed an employee of-—ummm Mafia Inc.-—who was doing some moonlight shopping.
The story made me smile.
Both of my grandfathers and two uncles were US Army on the Western Front though certainly not as long as your folks.
My dad’s father was a Sgt in an ammo company and I heard a little bit about delivering to the trench rears during the German bombardments when I was a kid. Of course, they were Americans and luckily had Mack trucks instead hayburners.
My other grandfather was a medic. They were also motorized.
There used to be an informal code amongst WWII ad Korean War Marines, that the most distinguished honor was to be advanced in grade without any ribbons artificially embellishing the purity of the uniform.
Your grandfather was awesome. No question, full stop. Slightly insane, of course - how many screws do you have to have loose to charge into combat armed with a medi-kit?
I know two classes of magnificent lunatics. Pilots and medics. They are both nuts. Though you might add a third - chaplains. I distinctly recall one taking a weapon once and saying “No” in the sort of voice that makes you run like hell. Totally flat. I was sort of floating in and out, but it scared the crap out of me. Sounded like a demon talking. Might have been the drugs, but damn. It was scary.
I like that idea.
We know our own. No need to big stuff up.
Sorry - but there are two kinds of medals: "been there" medals/ribbons that people are given for going someplace or serving successfully and the medals for sacrifice/heroism. The author of this bit suggests that they should all be lumped together and thrown over John Kerry's fence.
I served my country for 27 years and all of us recognized the difference between a Silver Star and the National Defense Service Medal. The men who wore the former distinguished themselves through risking their lives in combat and we all respected their achievements. The Purple Heart meant that the wearer bled for their country in combat and that too rates respect and always will.
Once you leave the service, your medals/ribbons end up in a closet for the kids to get after you die.
A little bit - yes. Guilty as charged.
I just felt incredibly bitter when I wrote it. The DSO ceremony was incredibly moving - as always. But the idea that a bit of ribbon can adequately thank one of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure to know just caught in my gears.
You get it. You stated that, explicitly. I will, both proudly and humbly, salute anyone who has a Silver Star (or equivalent) and hold it for hours if necessary. It’s just - it seems a bit weak sauce for the real heroes? “Congratulations, you did some amazing stuff. Here’s a nice bit of ribbon and here’s your pink slip. Good luck in finding a job.”
Just doesn’t seem right to me.
Unfortunately, it's the only system we have. Combat veterans are expected to keep their traps shut and stay out of view except for the few times a year when everyone breaks out the flags and speeches. The truth is that there isn't any way to really reward those who gave their everything for the rest or return them to who they were before their wars.
I will always respect and honor those who endured warfare and survived and if they do have an award, I will politely but insistently try learn what that gentleman or lady did to earn it. Sharing that history with us and our children will be the real value of those medals.
Could we hear of the acts that earned the DSO?
I have to be discreet.
The gentleman concerned has nearly 40 years in the service. The last 5 years working with the Kurds, under the radar, doing tactical. They seem to have a blind spot with that. Not going to criticize, they fight like PO’d chainsaws, but it is a failing.
This man - and the word is deliberate - gave up 40 years of his life. His reward? A neat little ribbon. Not exactly fair.
Kerry is a whole other kettle of fish. I’ll give McCain the respect he deserves. He earned his medals the hard way, even though he’s an idiot. Kerry, on the other hand- I can’t spit hard enough.
My mother’s dad died when I was 31 so I got to talk to him about WW1. He was really a quiet and mild- mannered type and struck me as one who would not be phased much by the shellfire, noise and chaos of the Front. He did tell me that what bothered him most was trying to figure out which wounded troops to spend time on when there were too many....fairly lightly injured; ones hurt so bad you didn’t think they could make it so he would give them morphine and leave them and then the ones in between who were in bad shape but savable. Making that kind of decision under pressure is pretty hard.
I have his WW1 discharge in a nice leather tri-fold and a set of his dogtags on a piece of green shoelace. They really do look like dogtags.
Don’t know what happened to my other grandfather’s stuff.
You are very lucky.
We do talk about the WW2 lot being the greatest generation. They are amazing people. No doubt about that, but they have nothing on the ones who fought in the Great War.
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