Consider these portraits of Generals Petraeus and Eisenhower. Petraeus is wearing over 30 ribbons and badges on his uniform. I'm sure he earned each of them. But of that 30, how many civilians will notice that only one item was for heroism (Bronze Star with "V")? Eisenhower earned only ten U.S. decorations (plus countless foreign ones), and - as was the custom of the day - typically wore only three or four at a time...Text and the Petraeus photo via The Dish. Eisenhower photo cropped from a photo of the 1947 painting at the National Portrait Gallery.
But the truth is, most accoutrements merely denote successful completion of an assignment, or time spent overseas - not necessarily in combat. Servicemembers can even earn a ribbon for volunteerism in their personal lives... We used to hesitate to adorn soldiers with ribbons, medals, and the like - it smacked of European symbols of nobility. The pendulum has swung too far toward over-recognition of service.
15 November 2012
Full medal jacket