Friday, 9 January 2009

Naff medals

I don't have that many US or Canadian readers, but for those of you looking at this from across the pond - apologies, nothing personal.

There's a certain British snobbishness about foreign medals. Service personnel have to ask for special permission to wear them. Most don't bother, unless it's the only foreign medal worth having, the
L├ęgion d'honneur. We're also pretty parsimonious in handing out our own, and it's taken sixty years for us to consider whether WWII bomber crews deserve their own campaign medal.

As Tony Blair is discovering, his two US medals - the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom - whilst
rightly highly valued in their own country when awarded to their own citizens, make him appear rather naff here in the UK. And the earl of Wessex, who abandoned the Royal Marines to become a runner for a video production company, is frankly taking the mickey in the first place by taking the Colonelship of the most colourful TA regiment, and compounding it by sporting, in addition to the Queen's two jubilee medals that were issued with the rations, the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal. He draws the sort of mildly pitying looks usually reserved for men who stuff socks down their pants.

Correlli Barnett,
writing in the Mail, reckons Blair should wear his medals in the dock at the International Court at the Hague. But since he now appears to spend his days lounging around Sir John Gielgud's old house in a shellsuit, perhaps just having them embroidered on his blouson would be theatrical enough.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the old joke that did the round in the Commonwealth armies:

What do you call a Brit (or Canuck or Ozzie) with three rows of ribbon on his jacket?

A hero, a veteran and a role model.

What do you call a Yank with three rows of ribbon his jacket?

Cadet Smith.

It's funny cuz it's true. The American obsession with doling out a new medal for every day that you've managed to stay out of the brig has always confused the rest of the Anglosphere. Heck, I remember when the Yanks invaded Grenada, they actually awarded more medals for heroism than there were soldiers in the campaign - which necessarily means that everyone got a bravery medal and some of them got multiples, which wouldn't be so bad if there'd actually been any fucking fighting in Grenada.

Bill Quango MP said...

But since he now appears to spend his days lounging around Sir John Gielgud's old house in a shellsuit..

Correlli Barnett hasn't got a shellsuit surely?

Raedwald said...

Ha! That made my splutter my coffee. The idea of Barnett in a shell suit ...

patently said...

The sad thing about Anonymous's post is that it is true. Literally true.

Whilst in the University Air Squadron, at the heady rank of "Cadet Pilot", I visited the USAF for four days. In that time, I managed to acquire one medal.

Nick Drew said...

During the first Gulf War (Op Granby) I had occasion to be sent a US Order of the Day which included the instruction:

Every opportunity will be taken to award medals

Mission accomplished, as they say

Anonymous said...

Americans are - and I mean no offence when I say this - complete wanks when it comes to the military. They have medals and badges for everything. Obviously, the point of them is to impress people but it has the opposite effect: how the fuck can you be impresed when some spotty-faced teenager who's just finished his (six week long!!!!!) basic training has so many ribbons and badges that he looks like a fucking Marshal of the Soviet Union circa 1984?