If you’ve ever walked by a military member wearing their dress uniform, you might have wondered what their medals and ribbons mean. There are hundreds of military decorations and awards, each with its history and significance. Although some of these are easier to identify, here are six significant awards you can easily spot.
- Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest award given to US service members. It’s also sometimes referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Since the medal was first created during the Civil War, it has only been given to those who have shown extraordinary bravery in battle. There are three different versions of the award, and all of its recipients are provided it by the president.
- Distinguished Service Cross
The Medal of America is given to individuals who have shown exceptional courage and bravery in combat. The second-highest award for military service is the Distinguished Service Cross. President Woodrow Wilson established the Distinguished Service Cross in 1918 to recognize the sacrifices made by US troops during the First World War. Before the Air Force Cross was established in 1960, it was also given to members of the Army Air Forces.
- Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the second-highest award that’s given to members of the military. It’s also shown to individuals who have displayed extraordinary bravery in combat. The Navy Cross was established in 1919 to recognize the actions of those who served during the First World War. It’s given to individuals who exhibited extraordinary bravery in combat.
- Air Force Cross
The Air Force Cross is a prestigious military award for service members who have distinguished themselves in combat. In 1960, the Air Force Cross was established to recognize the actions of individuals who displayed extraordinary bravery in combat. Some individuals who have received this award include George Day, a World War II veteran, and John Chapman, an airman posthumously granted the Medal of Honor.
- Distinguished Flying Cross
Besides the Air Force, other military branches also have awards for service members who display extraordinary bravery in action. The Air Force’s Distinguished Flying Cross can be given to members of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and DHS for actions while flying. The Air Force Cross was established in 1926 to honor outstanding military service. Some individuals who have received this award include former President George HW Bush and Thomas Stafford, an astronaut who commanded the Apollo 10 mission.
- Purple Heart Medal
The Purple Heart is often confused with other awards given by the US military due to its long history. In 1782, President George Washington established the prize as the “Badge of Military Merit.” It was initially meant to be given to soldiers who exhibited extraordinary bravery in battle. The award was initially given to enlisted soldiers and non-commissioning officers for their military service. This was a revolutionary idea since most awards were given to officers.