Sunday, March 26, 2017

Obsessed With Ribbons: Civilian and Military

For Illustration Only! This is what four ribbons looks like on a conference badge.
I actually merit no ribbons!

The selection of possible ribbons.

Today I worked in the registration area at an engineering conference.  I helped people find the ribbons they were supposed to wear as conference participants.  Most of the participants knew which ribbons if any they were supposed to wear.  Most people wore none.  The most common ribbon was "Speaker" followed by "Fellow."  

But about one in twenty were entitled to multiple ribbons. Most had been doing this for years and knew which ones they should wear, but at one point a group of four men and women showed up who were very excited about their multiple ribbons and upset that the ribbon "Chair" was not available.  Each of these avid ribbon wearers were the Chair of something and were upset that ribbon was not on the ribbon table. 

Since I had no useful information about where they could get their Chair ribbons, they looked for the manager of registration to see if there was a not a special stash of Chair ribbons in a secret place.  Then they discussed the order of their ribbons and how many each person was entitled to. I did not laugh out loud, but I am sure the smirk I wore was visible.  

In the Army there are a few soldiers obsessed their awards who make sure they receive every award they are entitled to.  Most soldiers are indifferent and take awards very lightly.  But a few want to be sure they receive every award of the Pennsylvania Recruiting and Retention Medal if they have met the requirements for that particular medal.  

In the Army every soldier is required to display all medals they have earned and for which they have orders, so some soldiers become expert in their ribbons because it is part of proper wear of the uniform.  

At an engineering conference, no one is required to wear ribbons, so the men and women who were hoping to add four or five ribbons to their badge can't say they have any reason except badge vanity. Of course, vanity can show up anywhere: in the Army, at an engineering conference, or on the runway at the Academy Awards.  I just thought it was funny to see ribbons for "Speaker" and "Fellow" and "Chair" treated like a Bronze Star Medal, and Air Medal, or a Croix de Guerre."