For every military ribbon there are significant amounts of associated US military medals that the various Presidents of the United States, along with the Senate and House of Representatives, have authorized for wear on the many military dress uniforms. Whether one is a member of the United States' Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, or Marine Corps, just as each service branch has their own designated service-branch specific military dress uniforms, so also do each have particular us military medals and ribbons that a service member can wear proudly for their duration in service.
To many United States' service men, and women, it is typically an honor for them to wear these military medals and ribbons, on their various dress uniforms, because they speak highly of their service both at home and while on deployments overseas. For those who see direct combat, the inherent value of these military awards is monumental in scope; however, it is oftentimes difficult to place a value on a tangible object, especially when one's life is in constant harm and jeopardy for the sake of their country, and all the values they hold dear. For these men and women, to escape with their lives, and dignity, intact is something that no amount of military medals can take the place of.
This is not meant to downgrade the earning of such prestigious awards, in anyway, although these experiences tend to give complete justification for the write-ups required to be awarded any US military medals and ribbons. To detail, in length, the many military branch specific military service medals that have been awarded, and are obtainable, would really be quite exhaustive in nature. However, with this article, I will highlight some of the most prestigious, yet less commonly earned military medals. While very few have displayed the heroism, bravery, courage, and selfless service required for the awarding of the United States' Medal of Honor, this award serves as the apex of all other military medals awarded to a serviceman or woman.
While a website called Wikipedia does provide an awesome article entitled "Awards and decorations of the United States Military", it is my hope that you will continue to read this article. While each United States' military service branch has a plethora of viable military medals and ribbons that one can earn, this Wikipedia article does a tremendous job at consolidating a visually, and aesthetically, pleasing representation of most of the military branch specific awards that could possibly earned by a service man, or woman. These pictures of ribbons and awards are presented by the order of precedence by which they should be displayed on one's uniform, in accordance with each service branch's specific regulations.
As the nation's highest honor awarded, the United States' Medal of Honor is the highest personal decorations that any service man, or woman, can earn. Awarded for "Gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty", the Medal of Honor is most often awarded posthumously. Most service members who have been awarded this prestigious award have sacrificed their lives in some way, shape, or form, and this military medal is typically awarded, in a ceremony, to the immediate family of the deceased. For those who live to tell the story associated with their receipt of such a prestigious award, they are authorized the wear of this medal around their necks for all to bear witness too.
Falling just below the personal criteria and requirements for the receipt of the United States' Medal of Honor, are three particular service cross military medal that are specific to the military branch they are associated with. At current, there is the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, and the Air Force Cross. These are all awarded for "extraordinary heroism". When one ventures into these higher level awards, it is easy to see the lines for criteria can become ever so slightly blurred in determining which particular actions are deserving of one military medal over another. By this, I mean, it may be difficult to see delineation between whether one is deserving of a Medal of Honor for their actions, a Service Cross Medal, or any of the following military medals and ribbons.
Following the service cross branch specific medals, in order of precedence, are the Distinguished Service medals. These military medals are also earned with respect to each service members' particular branch of service. For instance, one may earn an Army Distinguished Service Medal, a Navy Distinguished Service Medal, an Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, or a Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal. Expounded upon those are also the Homeland Security and Defense Distinguished Service Medals. Also accompanying these Distinguished Service medals are also medals that bear different names like the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Immediately following the Distinguished Service US Military Medals, in order of precedence, are the Medals for heroism. Once again, it is easy to see how guidelines for criteria can become ever so blurred, especially when one has to determine to what extent a given act was 'heroic'. Was the act heroic enough to be deserving of a service cross medal, or just heroic enough to be deserving of a lesser precedent award. The US Military Medals for heroism include such awards as the Soldier's Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the Airman's Medal, the Coast Guard Medal, the Gold Lifesaving Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Silver Lifesaving Medal, and the Aerial Achievement Medal.
Each of these particular military medals and ribbons are more commonly earned nowadays especially with consideration given to our current operating environments over in both Iraq and Afghanistan. To find a soldier adorned with a Bronze Star Medal is typically more likely than seeing one with a prestigious Medal of Honor completely engulfing their neck area. In my honest and humble opinion, it is refreshing to reflect on the scarcity of such awards like the Medal of Honor. It is certainly not an award that should be handed out generously, but rather to those who have defied heroism, bravery, and selfless service, above and beyond the call of duty.
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