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Wearing an Ancestor's Medals Mega-thread

1feral1

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Michael O`Leary said:
For the moment, let's set aside the issue of wearing ancestor's medals on uniforms. Even if the Canadian Government authorized the wear of "ancestor's medals" on civilian dress for Remembrance Day, wearing them on uniforms is a separate CF dress issue.

Also, I think the point here is that you wouldn't see them worn by your own child or grandchild.  If you're around to see that, you'd be wearing them yourself.

Even in uniform wearing of NOK medals is authorised, again on the right. There is a military cultural difference of 110% here, and although we all have opinions, army.ca members which disagree in our policy can't seem to see the forrest thru the trees, and seem to be stuck in the rut of 'only wear 'em if they are yours' attitude. Thats fine for medals worn on the left. I hope one day someone will wear my rack on ANZAC Day.

Australia is not the only Common-Wealth country doing this, so putting your personal feelings/emotions aside, PLEASE start thinking with your brains, not your hearts.

If you had a chance to see this in operation, and its results, then maybe you would change your mind. Think outside of the circle.

WRT education, ask any 12 yr old here what is ANZAC and what is Gallipoli, and they'll tell you, ask any 12 yr old in Canada what is Vimy Ridge, and most, if not 95% (or more) will have not a clue. Personally I think that is very sad. Again ask a kid here what is the Kakoda Track (WWII), and again most know, as again any kid in Canada about Dieppe, and few know. Again ask a local kid what is Long Tang (Viet Nam),  and again many know, ask a kid in Canada what is Kapyong, and most again don't have a clue.

If people in Canada took an interest in their relatives medals, maybe things would be different, and things like this would not end up in garage sales or the garbage. Don't let your country's sacrifices go unnoticed or be forgotten because of such stubornness. Medals here worn on the RIGHT are displayed with such pride, and the public know what the true meaning of this is, and to see the general public coming together at certain times of the year, simply increases the bond, keeps the ANZAC spirit alive, their Dads and grandad's spirit alive, and again builds the tradition of our Veterans, so our Sons of ANZAC will never die as long as thei memory is carried on from one generation to another. Its healthy for everyone and for the right reasons.

It frustrates me so much to see such negativeity coming from what appears to be narrow minds. Again think with your brains, not with your hearts.

Again, just a humble opinion from an Aussie Vet, and someone who did his time in the CF. I have seen the results of how things are done here in Australia  over the past 14 yrs, and it works with nothing but positive results.

OWDU

 

davidk

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Michael O`Leary said:
For the moment, let's set aside the issue of wearing ancestor's medals on uniforms. Even if the Canadian Government authorized the wear of "ancestor's medals" on civilian dress for Remembrance Day, wearing them on uniforms is a separate CF dress issue.

After following the debate for a while, I'll cautiously wade in.

One suggestion made a while ago (before the threads were amalgamated) was that if someone wants to wear the medals to commemorate someone that served, that they be worn on the inside of the jacket. Personally, I think this is a particularly fitting tribute - they are worn without being visible (so no legal issue) and they can be kept 'close to the heart' as a testament to the original owner's importance.

That being said, I'm opposed to wearing someone else's medals while in uniform, no matter what side they're on. It's a (chargeable?) offense to wear a medal (or any other uniform distinction) that hasn't been earned. Even if it were permitted, though, and I were allowed to show up to Remembrance Day with my hypothetical grandfather's hypothetical rack of medals from WWII, I'd be against it. I see it as an affront to currently serving members - no matter whose medals they were, I'd be wearing them, and, not having been deployed (yet), would be biting my thumb at those around me who have risked life and limb.
 

Blackadder1916

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In this discussion mention has been made several times to the differing legality in other commonwealth countries concerning the wearing of an ancestor's medals.  Perhaps a review of these other countries laws would be useful since some of the contentions made in previous posts may not be entirely correct.  Also keep in mind that while law, regulation, custom or accepted practice may somehow seem in conflict they can (and do) permit and exclude a practice at the same time in complete harmony.  Legislation restricting the wearing of decorations was not necessarily a response to any widespread abuse after the Great War; such offences were detailed (and worded similarly) in legislation back into the 19th century.  Of the four commonwealth countries so far discussed in this thread (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom) all have similar legislation that restricts the wearing of military decorations and medals to only those who have earned them; only one country (Australia) has any modifier (that I was able to find) that "by letter of the law" permits the wear of an ancestor's medals.  Wes, however, has given ample proof that this is widely accepted and practised even in uniform.

It should be noted that public remembrance ceremonies became more common and families were more likely to have fallen loved ones following 11 November 1918.  Similar to current events (though on much reduced scale now) the losses due to war reverberated not just in individual families but the country as a whole.  It was probably that feeling of loss (maybe mixed with pride) that moved many to display the medals of their departed loved ones (despite the contemporary existence of legislation that restricted the wear of medals).  It has been mentioned that there were overt actions on the part of veterans groups (et al) in the years following the previous wars to restrict this practice in Canada.  However, it seems just from anecdotal evidence that some did wear the decorations and medals of family members even if contrary to the letter of law. 

In doing this little bit of research I've come to the conclusion that the inclusion of Article 419 into the Canadian Criminal Code (vice another act as in the other countries) was perhaps a typical Canadian response as we maintain a reasonably precise consolidation of offences relating to civilians in contrast to the UK legal structure which has offences scattered all over the place.

Though I would not suggest the wearing of ancestral war decorations in uniform (that is directly contrary to both the letter and intent of several CF regulations) if a person (in civilian attire) were to wear display on their clothing a deceased (immediate) family member's war decorations clearly as a tribute to the service of that loved one it should not (in my non-legal opinion) be contrary to the intent of Article 419 of the Canadian Criminal Code.  It could (probably would) become an accepted practice, in time could become the custom; when it is the custom, a law is not necessarily required.

Canada

Criminal Code  Link to article 419
Unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates

419. Every one who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on him,
(a) wears a uniform of the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force or a uniform that is so similar to the uniform of any of those forces that it is likely to be mistaken therefor,
(b) wears a distinctive mark relating to wounds received or service performed in war, or a military medal, ribbon, badge, chevron or any decoration or order that is awarded for war services, or any imitation thereof, or any mark or device or thing that is likely to be mistaken for any such mark, medal, ribbon, badge, chevron, decoration or order,
(c) has in his possession a certificate of discharge, certificate of release, statement of service or identity card from the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force that has not been issued to and does not belong to him, or
(d) has in his possession a commission or warrant or a certificate of discharge, certificate of release, statement of service or identity card, issued to an officer or a person in or who has been in the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force, that contains any alteration that is not verified by the initials of the officer who issued it, or by the initials of an officer thereto lawfully authorized,
is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 377.

Of note is the response on DH&R's FAQs as the reason why this practice is forbidden in Canada.
http://www.forces.gc.ca/hr/dhr-ddhr/eng/faqs_e.asp#Q9
Question
May I wear a relative's medals?
Answer
Article 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibits the wearing of orders, decorations and medals by anyone other than the individual who was awarded the honour.

United Kingdom

Army Act 1955 (c. 18) Link
Part V General Provisions
Offences relating to military matters punishable by civil courts

197.  Unauthorised use of and dealing in decorations, etc.
— (1) Any person who, in the United Kingdom or in any colony,— 
(a) without authority uses or wears any military decoration, or any badge, wound stripe or emblem supplied or authorised by [F1 the Defence Council],
or
(b) uses or wears any decoration, badge, wound stripe, or emblem so nearly resembling any military decoration, or any such badge, stripe or emblem as aforesaid, as to be calculated to deceive, or
(c) falsely represents himself to be a person who is or has been entitled to use or wear any suchdecoration, badge, stripe or emblem as is mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection,
shall be guilty of an offence against this section:
Provided that nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the use or wearing of ordinary regimental badges or of brooches or ornaments representing them.
(2) Any person who purchases or takes in pawn any naval, military or air-force decoration awarded to any member of Her Majesty’s military forces, or solicits or procures any person to sell or pledge any such decoration, or acts for any person in the sale or pledging thereof, shall be guilty of an offence against this section unless he proves that at the time of the alleged offence the person to whom the decoration was awarded was dead or had ceased to be a member of those forces.
(3) Any person guilty of an offence against this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a finenot exceeding [F2 level 3 on the standard scale] or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both such a fine and such imprisonment.

I have found no other UK act or regulation that specifically modifies this law and permits the wear of a deceased family member’s decorations as an act of remembrance but perhaps there is common sense in the world after all as would be suggested by this reply posted on  ARmy Rumour SErvice

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/p=251526.html#251526
As I type this reply, I proudly have my late grandfathers medals to hand. I am serving member and have some info that I hope you can use. I contacted th e MoD when my grand poppy passed away to find out the history behind the medals - when he was awarded, what for, dates etc and the info I got back was fantastic, all his postings, and a full history of his service history from 1933 to 1953.

As for wearing of the medals the wording and regulations from the MoD Medal Office is as follows:

"There are no regulations which govern the wearing of medals awarded to persons who are deceased. Although it is not formally authorised, it has become an acceptable practice for Next of Kin or Legal Beneficiary (when in civilian dress) to wear deceased persons insignia as a mark of rememberance on suitable occasions if they so desire. (The most notable is Remeberance Sunday Parades and Services). When so doing, the medals are worn on the right hand breast in civilian dress only. The custom of wearing other persons' medals in this manner does not offend either the Army Act 1955 section 197 or the emotional tribute to which such wearing is intended".

Australia

DEFENCE ACT 1903 Link
80B Improper use of service decorations

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person wears a service decoration; and
(b) the person is not the person on whom the decoration was conferred.

Penalty: 30 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both.
(2) Where the person upon whom a service decoration was conferred has died, it is not an offence against subsection (1) for a member of the family of that person to wear the service decoration if the member of the family does not represent himself as being the person upon whom the decoration was conferred.
Note: The defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in subsection (2). See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.
(3) It is not an offence against subsection (1) for a person to wear a service decoration in the course of a dramatic or other visual representation (including such a representation to be televised) or in the making of a cinematograph film.
Note: The defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matter in subsection (3). See subsection 13.3(3) of the Criminal Code.
(4) A person shall not falsely represent himself as being the person upon whom a service decoration has been conferred.
Penalty: 30 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both.
(5) A person shall not deface or destroy, by melting or otherwise, a service decoration.
Penalty: 60 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

New Zealand

Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918 Link
Offences in respect of military decorations

 (1) In this section the term military decoration means any medal, clasp, badge, ribbon, stripe, emblem, or decoration issued, supplied, or authorised, or purporting or reputed to be issued, supplied, or authorised, by a naval, military, or air force authority, whether in New Zealand or in any other Commonwealth country; but does not include an ordinary regimental badge or any brooch or ornament representing such a badge.
(2) Every person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $500—
 (a) Who represents himself, contrary to the fact, to be a person who is or has been entitled to wear or use any military decoration;
or
 (b) Who wears or uses any medal, clasp, badge, ribbon, stripe, emblem, or decoration that is intended or is likely, by reason of its appearance or in any other manner, to cause any person to believe, contrary to the fact, that it is a military decoration; or
 (c) Who, without reasonable excuse, supplies or offers to supply—
 (i) Any military decoration; or
 (ii) Any medal, clasp, badge, ribbon, stripe, emblem, or decoration that is intended or is likely, by reason of its appearance or in any other manner, to cause any person to believe, contrary to the fact, that it is a military decoration—
to any person who is not authorised to wear or use that military decoration.
(3) In a prosecution under this section, the burden of proving that any person is authorised to wear or use any military decoration shall be on the defendant.
This section was inserted by section 46(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1981.

But then New Zealand also (IMO) differentiates between the letter of the law and its intent when recognizing custom.

Wearing of Decorations and Medals by Next of Kin or Family Members
http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/overview/wearing-insignia.html
The insignia of any order, decoration or medal, including miniatures, lapel badges and ribbons, may only be worn by the person to whom they were awarded.

There is a convention or custom that is widely understood that the next of kin and other relatives may wear, on the right side only, on ANZAC and similar days of remembrance, the service medals of deceased military personnel. The convention is a matter of personal discretion, is limited to days of remembrance and applies only to service medals and decorations mounted on a medal bar (full-size or miniature) and not neck badges, sashes and badges, or breast stars
.





 

Oil Can

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It is a criminal offense to wear military medals that someone else has earned.

http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/youth/sub.cfm?source=Help/generalfaq

 
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aesop081

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Oil Can said:
It is a criminal offense to wear military medals that someone else has earned.

http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/youth/sub.cfm?source=Help/generalfaq

Thank you for posting information already posted in this thread.
 

mariomike

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It is beneath contempt to wear an order, decoration or medal you did not earn. 
Because some people have no shame, this had to be written into law.
This law was written at a time when our World War veterans were plentiful. As well as the next of kin of those who went to war and never came back. They are the ones who demanded this be written into law.
Who are we to say they were wrong?






 

Michael OLeary

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Well, since this thread has been dredged up once again.

There are countries that allow, under strict guidelines, the wearing of ancestors' medals to honour their memory and service.  This not the same as wearing just anyone's medals.  This is not the same as wearing medals to deceive.

Notably, those stories I can recall from the past few years of people being caught wearing medals to deceive seem to come predominantly from those same countries.  Why, we might ask?  I suggest it's not because they also they allow the wearing of ancestor's medals at specific ceremonies, but rather because the general awareness of medals, their importance, and of who should be wearing them and when is a matter of public knowledge.  They have also learned to ask themselves and others questions about medals, such as "Does he look old enough to have been in Vietnam?", "Could he have won that award?"  And they learn who to ask to confirm such suspicions.

On Remembrance Day in Canada, which is the only time many members of the public see medals being worn at all, we suffer from a public ignorance of medals and their significance.  That is why we see news stories featuring guys with racks of Legion awards, while the guy with a shorter rack headed by an MM passes quietly in the background.

I have no problems with the rules as they stand, but I do not see a well-regulated change, with appropriate educational approaches, being a bad option either.  What a great opportunity it would be for VAC and the Legion, among other agencies, to promote the awareness and understanding of medals and all they stand for in addition to the Poppy Campaign.

 

1feral1

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mariomike said:
It is beneath contempt to wear a medal you did not earn. 
Because some people have no shame, this had to be written into law.

Well, I have lots of shame, and I wear my Great uncle's (KIA Passchendaele 06 Nov 1917) WW1 two medals on my right, and my own on my left, and I will be doing this again on ANZAC Day.

I would suggest you read the entire thread before you post.

OWDU
 

mariomike

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Overwatch Downunder said:
I wear my Great uncle's (KIA Passchendaele 06 Nov 1917) WW1 two medals on my right,
OWDU

If that is what they had wanted, Canadian veterans and next of kin would have had the law written to say it is ok to wear orders, decorations and medals you did not earn on the right.
That is not what they wanted. Out of respect for them, what they wanted was written into the Criminal Code of Canada.




 

riggermade

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I would rather see them worn by some relative who respects what they stood for than have somebody sell them to make a profit...and who really knows what vets wanted...ther are alot of laws out there that people don't want or make sense
 

Michael OLeary

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riggermade said:
I would rather see them worn by some relative who respects what they stood for than have somebody sell them to make a profit...

On the other hand, I'd rather see them sold by an uncaring relative to a collector who will preserve their memory, than the possible alternative action if that relative felt they had no value whatever.
 

Nfld Sapper

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or if the family doesn't want them, have them donated to the regiment that the vet belonged to or is perpetuated by it.

I know in the case of my units first CO, we have placed his medals and forage cap in a display case under his picture.

EDITED TO ADD

First time I had ever seen a CD with 3 bars was in his medals rack.
 

geo

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mariomike said:
It is beneath contempt to wear an order, decoration or medal you did not earn. 
Because some people have no shame, this had to be written into law.
This law was written at a time when our World War veterans were plentiful. As well as the next of kin of those who went to war and never came back. They are the ones who demanded this be written into law. Who are we to say they were wrong?

How the hell do you know what the vererans "demanded" ?
Our politicians are funny people & for the most part.... have never seen the business end of a rifle pointed at them.... xcept if they have gone on a photo-op junket to the Balkans or to Kabul/Kandahar.  Do you think they have been pressured by members of the Legion - I can tell you that there are a lot of "legionaires" who never served a day.

Wearing a family member's military decorations, under controlled conditions on Remembrance day & / or possibly some other specific occasion, would be the ultimate compliment paid to their service to this great nation.  If medals are worn on the right side - there is no attempt to deceive - there is no impersonation.  I would contend that you have not bothered reading this thread before wading into this discussion.
 
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aesop081

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geo said:
  I would contend that you have not bothered reading this thread before wading into this discussion.

Reading the thread means you have to agree that it should be allowed to wear them on the right side on certain occasions ?

I've read it in its entirety and i disagree.
 

geo

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CDN Aviatior.... I didn't say that.  The way he came out & blurted out his opinion suggests that he did not read what has already been said.  He is entitled to his opinion and so are we all.

We agree to dissagree.
 

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It is indeed illegal to wear medals you have not earned.
But we got to clarify the terminology: you wear medals on your left. If you have them on your right, you are displaying them.

Some typical Canadian comments on this thread: you can be proud of anything but not display it, God forbid someone may think that you are too patriotic or glorifying war....

We should be more like the Aussies and Americans and not be ashamed of displaying our patriotism or be proud of the sacrifices of our ancestors. Our Cub/Scouts that had medals from relatives veterans were encouraged to display  them for Remembrance day on their right side and several showed up with them. Many of the old guys at the Pearley Veterans Hospital were pretty moved about that.

Thanks OWDU and others for your info.

cheers,
Frank
 

mariomike

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geo said:
How the hell do you know what the vererans "demanded" ?

How the hell do I know?
Because it has been that way for as long as Canada has had "vererans".

 

 

Michael OLeary

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mariomike said:
How the hell do I know?
Because it has been that way for as long as Canada has had "vererans".

Interestingly, most of the posters in this thread qualify for that label by one definition or another.  Doesn't than mean that we can discuss the possibility of change with as much entitlement to our opinion as they once had?  Can't we discuss what such a change might mean and how it could help to further education and understanding of those very veterans' achievements?  Or do the past decisions of dead veterans deny us the right to even have this discussion?
 

mariomike

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PanaEng said:
"you wear medals on your left. If you have them on your right, you are displaying them."

Where does it offer that loophole in the Criminal Code of Canada?
"We should be more like the Aussies and Americans and not be ashamed of displaying our patriotism or be proud of the sacrifices of our ancestors."

I am thankful to be a Canadian, imperfect as we may be compared to those other great nations.
I wear my own medals - on the left side - when I march with my Department in the Remembrance Day parade every year at Toronto Old City Hall. If I am off duty. 
I have inherited four sets of  ( Canadian World War ) medals. I don't wear them. I am just their guardian.

"Our Cub/Scouts that had medals from relatives veterans"

Good for them. Cubs are children. They can wear all the medals they want.

Thanks for letting me participate in your discussion, and have a great day!


MOD EDIT: fixed the quote box
 

geo

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mariomike said:
How the hell do I know?
Because it has been that way for as long as Canada has had "vererans".
Soo.... with 35+ years of service (and counting)... I guess I fall under that catgory too ? 
 
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