Lapel Pins

July 29, 2009

Patriotism and America are two ideas that you simply cannot separate. Yet this reverence for the flag is relatively recent, with the Second World War being the period in which the strong connection to the flag began to transform itself into a desire to display it whenever possible. This desire has manifested itself in flags being flown from front lawns and decks up and down the country, in people wearing USA caps and, most obviously amongst politicians, in the wearing of lapel pins.

The most recent surge in the wearing of flag pins was obviously following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the pins were a fantastic way, as they are now, of showing belief in the nation and also as a bold statement of togetherness in the face of attack from outside. Yet their wearing did not end in the months or years following that awful day. Constantly people want to show that they still carry the hopes and dreams, the rights and values, strengths and pride that the flag holds for every American. And politicians are not immune from this – from Clinton to McCain and even eventually Obama too were seen wearing them during the most recent presidential campaign. And, with the ongoing conflicts that our forces are involved with overseas the reasons to wear a lapel pin remain strong.

However, it isn’t a recent invention to use pins to show belief in such causes, way back in the Civil War is when lapel pins started to be worn, and then as now they were meant to show belonging and pride to be part of a particular unit. Similarly during the two World Wars the use of lapel pins to show belonging and to mark out commended soldiers contributed to a sense of pride and honor.

The phenomenon isn’t purely American either, Lenin often wore lapel pins to show his commitment to the communist cause as did Chairman Mao in China. In Britain a number of charities use the pins to help raise awareness for their cause, often by having a celebrity or other famous person wear them.
In short, while it is still amazing that something so small can carry with it so much moral weight, the lapel pins has indeed taken on a major role not just in American society but around the globe. It allows people to truly wear their beliefs on their chest in the form of a lapel pin and to show what they believe in. And, if you’re not wearing one – why not?