Saturday, March 12, 2011

Steampunk Poll Question - Real Military Medals on Steampunk Uniforms...

Turn of the century Tunisian Medals

This poll question ventures into somewhat controversial material this time – the topic of wearing medals with Steampunk attire.  Being prior military, I had wondered about this topic in a peripheral sense (e.g. should a medal from a military organization be worn as part of, for lack of a better term, costume).  A recent thread on the Steampunk Empire regarding this topic did pique my curiosity, and certainly did provide a number of viewpoints on wearing of medals.  As such, I figured I would post this as a poll question, and see what the majority of the readers of this yellow rag say…

"Old unidentified medal", from

The effort to distill the choices for the poll were challenging, as there are plenty shades of gray to address, but here is the question I have devised….

Is it acceptable to wear medals from current military organizations on Steampunk attire?

Yes – If I can purchase a medal, I have no qualms wearing it.
Yes – If I’ve earned the medals from active duty service, I have no qualms wearing them.
Yes – Wearing medals is simply part of my Steampunk persona, and I do not consider it disrespectful to active duty service members - this is akin to actors wearing medals to represent service members.
No – Wearing medals from active duty service is disrespectful to service veterans.
Other - My view is not represented in the above choices.

Persian Medals, Circa 1919

I specifically used the term “current military organizations” to reflect any current military service, regardless of nationality.  A gadfly might argue that wearing a medal from a defunct military organization is disrespetfuly, but I’d wager to say that not many people (nor the defunct military organization) would be offended if one wore a medal from, say, the Ottoman Empire, even if one would have the financial wherewithal to afford said item.

I realize that there are controversial legal issues concerning the wearing of medals, which one has not earned.  The lead post of the Steampunk Empire thread references the Stolen Valor Act (in the United States), and other nations have specific laws regarding wearing military awards, but again, I would like to focus specifically on the poll question… for a more complete complex analysis of legal issues, I’d recommend a visit to the aforementioned Steampunk Empire thread.

Finally, please, no political commentaries.  There are plenty of other places which are better forums for political discussions, and I will be exceptionally hesitant to post political opinions (aka – they will not be posted).  The focus will be on the lead poll question, not on political discussion.  I will make mention on the Steampunk Empire about this poll, and its is likely a better forum for said discussions.  The thread in question is located at: 


Fogwoman Gray said...

My criterion would have more to do with whether said medal was "modern".
An antique medal awarded to a long dead soldier by, say, Queen Victoria would be acceptible attire in my opinion. I suspect nobody would think that I was actually old enough to have been the original recipient.
To me, displaying such a memorial to bravery is a very Victorian thing to do - and is certainly better than having said memorial gathering dust in some forgotten corner.
(I do hope this is sufficently non-political)

Itsbugart said...

I would have to vote "no" on this issue. As an historian and archivist I try to keep the line between history and alternate history clear.

Lolli said...

I think it's disrespectful and dishonourable to wear items or symbols of mana which do not belong to you. Purchasing something doesn't mean it -belongs- to you.

However, if such items do in fact belong to you I feel that you should be able to wear them as part of your everyday attire or for special events. I think the question there becomes a matter of if the individual feels that it's appropriate to wear it in the given situation.

I think there's a lot of other resources for medals or badges that can be used in outfits, and I think that those should be considered over and above disrespecting others who've given so much.

I'd also like to add, this is an exceptional post, though not as if I'd expect less from this blog, but it's wonderful to see.

Carl said...

I believe if they are wearing it just to wear it they shouldn't but if it fits their alter ego and have a good tale on how they were awarded the medal then yes they should be able to wear it.

Rafael Fabre said...

@ Miss Gray - The definition of modern can be a bit vexing... I recently saw a video of a Steampunk fellow wearing the National Defense Service medal (a fairly common US medal for the current time), and I thought to myself, "Seriously? Is that *all* the effort you would put into your attire?". I do concur with your sentiments, and your comment is quite fine - ty!
@ Miss Lolli - Thank you for your comment and kind compliment, madam!
@ All who have posted - Thank you for your posts!