Receiving a military award or two is definitely something that a soldier should be proud of. That’s a fact. The honor of being awarded one, whichever it is, does not only outwardly display the highlights of a soldier’s career but also speaks of the selfless service that the person rendered for a greater cause.

Brief History of the Ribbons

The use of what we might call the modern commemorative medal could be traced back to 1438 when the Italian painter Antonio Pisano invented the first medal ever that portrayed the Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaeologus. In the US, according to the US Army Center of History, “the first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by the nation’s fighting men was established by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. Designed to recognize ‘any singularly meritorious action,’ the award consisted of a purple cloth heart.”

There are differences between medals, decorations, and badges on a military uniform.

Medals are just that, they are metal discs attached to a ribbon. They are awarded to recognize service in battles, campaigns, and things related to the general non-combat record of accomplishments by the service member.

Decorations are similar to medals but they take the form of a star in bronze, silver, or gold in the case of the Medal of Honor, which is considered a Personal Decoration rather than a Service Medal(medallion) like the Good Conduct Medal. Decorations are for things above and beyond the call of duty, valor in combat, bravery, distinguished service,  They are related to actions in combat.

Badges denote professional skills and the qualifications of the service member, like rank insignia, aviation wings, and paratrooper wings.

If you think the honor and prestige of medals, decorations and medals would exempt them from getting humorous nicknames, you’d be mistaken. Nothing is safe from the biting sarcasm and wit of service members. As you will see,

The Enemy Marksmanship Badge, Also Known As The Purple Heart

Purple Heart was officially reinstituted on February 22, 1932, when General Douglas MacArthur, who was the Army Chief of Staff at that time, pushed to revive Washington’s The cloth Badge of Military Merit that died out. This award is given to service members who had been wounded, killed, or died later because of wounds caused by the enemy in battle. Earning one is certainly honorable but it may be the one decoration in the military nobody really wants, because by earning it you are marked as unlucky in battle.  For that reason, some prefer to call it “Enemy Marksmanship Badge” as a joke. The military has a very fatalistic sense of humor.