Military thin ribbons symbolize the various awards and commendations a service member has received throughout their military career. They serve as a reflection of a soldier’s dedication, bravery, and skill and are a point of pride for every service member.
However, displaying and wearing these ribbons can be complex, as it follows a detailed set of regulations and protocols. Here are the key points on correctly wearing and displaying military thin ribbons.
1. Understanding The Ribbon Hierarchy
Firstly, it’s crucial to comprehend the hierarchy of the ribbons. Each ribbon corresponds to a specific military award or commendation and must be displayed in a certain order based on its importance. This is typically descending from top left to bottom right when displayed on a ribbon rack.
Ribbons are arranged from the highest order of precedence to the lowest, which usually means that personal valor awards are displayed first. They’re followed by unit awards, service awards, and foreign awards. Do thorough research or seek advice from a military supervisor to ensure you have the correct order!
2. Preparing Your Ribbons
When preparing your ribbons for wear, it is vital to keep them clean and undamaged. Each ribbon should be sharp and crisp with clear, vibrant colors. Ribbons that are faded or frayed must be replaced.
Most military regulations also require that your ribbons be mounted on a metal or plastic rack for wear. You can typically purchase these racks at a military supply store or online, and they come in a variety of sizes and configurations to fit the number and arrangement of your ribbons.
3. Positioning Your Ribbons On Uniform
The ribbons are worn on the left side of the uniform, typically over the left breast pocket. For most military branches, the ribbons should be aligned with the left edge of any medals or decorations worn on the left chest area.
However, always follow the uniform regulations specific to your branch of service, as the exact placement can vary. The ribbons should be centered and parallel to the ground without leaning or skewing in any direction.
4. Wearing Ribbons For Various Occasions
The occasion you’re wearing your uniform can dictate whether you wear your full-size ribbons or the miniature versions. Full-size ribbons are usually worn on service dress uniforms during formal events, while miniature ribbons can be worn on mess dress uniforms for less formal occasions.
Some ribbons may also be worn on civilian clothing during specific events. Always consult your service’s uniform regulations for precise guidance on when and how to wear your ribbons.
5. Displaying Ribbons In Other Contexts:
Your ribbons can be displayed in a shadow box or display case when not worn on a uniform. This is a popular way to showcase a military career’s achievements and is often done upon retirement.
The ribbons should be arranged in the same order of precedence as they would be on your uniform. Include any associated medals, badges, patches, or insignia in the display as well. You may also include photographs or other mementos that are meaningful to your service.
6. Considering The Branch-Specific Guidelines:
Another important consideration is that each military branch may have specific guidelines for wearing and displaying thin ribbons. For instance, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have regulations that differ from the Army and the Air Force. Ribbons in these services are worn in rows of three, with the topmost row containing fewer ribbons if necessary and centered over the left breast pocket.
The Marine Corps also follows similar regulations but without centering the ribbons on the pocket. Study your respective branch’s instructions thoroughly, which are usually available in physical manuals or online resources.
7. Preserving The Ribbons’ Quality Over Time:
Maintaining the ribbons’ quality over time is essential to wearing and displaying military thin ribbons.
Your ribbons are not just items of decoration but bear testament to your dedicated service and professional accomplishments. Therefore, they deserve to be handled and stored with care. To preserve their vibrant colors and condition, keep them away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures when storing.
It is recommended to avoid washing the ribbons, but if it becomes necessary, consult with a professional cleaner who is familiar with handling military decorations.
Honoring Your Journey: Cherish Your Military Thin Ribbons
Every ribbon tells a unique story, each color symbolizing a specific achievement or commendation. By respecting these protocols, you allow these stories to be told with the dignity and honor they deserve!
So, wear your thin ribbons with pride, display them with respect, and let them serve as a lasting tribute to your military journey.