National Geographic : 1919 Dec
VOL. XXXVI, No. 6 WASHINGTON DECEMBER, 1919 THE COPYRIGHT 1919. BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY. WASHINGTON,D.C. THE ROMANCE OF MILITARY INSIGNIA How the United States Government Recognizes Deeds of Heroism and Devotion to Duty (The numbers in parentheses appearing in the text refer to the corresponding descriptive paragraphsand illustrationsin color, pages 502 to 526) BY COL. ROBERT E. WYLLIE, GENERAL STAFF. U. S. A. THE United States has ever been a peace-loving nation, concerned with the industries and arts of peace and giving scant attention to any thing military. To the great bulk of the present gen eration a soldier in uniform was a rara avis-something to be looked at in astonishment when seen; so that, even in garrison towns, it is not surprising that the soldier preferred to resort to the camouflage of civilian clothes when go ing on pass. But now, participation in the great World War has carried the Army into every home in the country; the uniform is no longer unfamiliar; it is everywhere, and there is not a family whose members cannot speak with pride of their boy who served Uncle Sam in the great emergency. This feeling of personal relationship to the military services carries with it the desire for information, and that is not always so easy to obtain. Four and a half million Americans are now en titled to the Victory Medal; yet how many fully comprehend just what that medal is, or what is meant by the bit of rainbow ribbon covered with stars that Jack wears so proudly? And that Dis- tinguished Service Cross that Bill has! What relationship does that bear to the Victory Medal, or to the Croix de Guerre that Sam sports? And then the shoulder, insignia! More than 2,000,000 men in uniform wore them-designs in all patterns and colors. What was their origin? Why were they worn? What do they all mean, anyhow? These are now subjects of interest in American homes. The previous indiffer ence has been replaced by a thirst for information, due to the personal touch that each family now has with the Army and Navy, and it furnishes the excuse for what is to follow. If you insist that you are not interested, in spite of the above assertions to the contrary, skip the reading matter and confine your at tention to the illustrations, for you can not resist the reproductions of the Beck Engraving Company. THE ORIGIN OF MEDALS The origin of medals, and other simi lar decorations is lost in the mists of an tiquity. Probably the earliest historical record was the award made by an Em peror of China, in the first century. of the Christian era, to his military commanders.