Over the past decade we have noticed a rampant increase in the number of people who are wearing their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. The cadre of people who flagrantly violate the official rules on how you are supposed to wear your medals ranges from the average veteran right up to current and former Governors General. Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that the higher the rank of the individual the more likely they are to just wear whatever they want, however they want. We like to think of this as “Instant Dictator Syndrome” or self-aggrandizement at its most obvious.

Why do people wear their medals incorrectly? Often it is because they simply do not know any better. If you are one of these people you should consult WEARING ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS which is available from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall. This guide will help you figure out how you are supposed to wear your officially granted orders, decorations and medals.

When it comes to wearing your medals incorrectly the worst offenders tend to be former Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and retired Generals. When these people – all in authority and all surrounded by staff who know better – wear their medals wrong they are obviously suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The attitude accompanied with this most severe condition is “the more medals I wear the more important I will look.”

This simple blog is aimed at revealing the myriad of fellow Canadians who cannot seem to wear their medals correctly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Do's and Don'ts of Remembrance Day

That time of year when we gratefully acknowledge the contribution made to Canada by those who have served in the military is upon us. It is always helpful to review the do's and don'ts of Remembrance Day -- these rules are useful throughout the year.

First off, you CANNOT wear the medals of a deceased relative -- EVER! If you do you are breaking the Law and you can be fined or go to jail under Section 419-10 of the Criminal Code of Canada. 

Next, only wear official national honours on the left, and if you have association medals or other unofficial or unrecognized awards they can only be worn on the right side. The Royal Canadian Legion seems to have done a solid job of ensuring that most of its members wear their Legion Medals on the right side, and their official national honours on the left. 
Mr. Chadderton, a good example,
real medals on left,
 unofficial ones of the right.
Sadly, over the years some veterans have "enhanced" their groups of medals by adding a variety of unofficial (dare I say totally fake) medals. Such "fake medals" have been struck by various companies in the UK for all sorts of military operatsions that were never individually recognized by a separate medal. For instance there is a "Battle of Britain Medal" issued by some private mint in Britain. Just mail in your 35 pounds and say that you are entitled to this gem and it arrives in the mail. Never mind the fact that if you had really served in the Battle of Britain you would have almost certainly received the 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain Bar. If you want to see the myriad of "awards" click here

Mounting these fake medals in with official national honours is a violation of Order-in-Council 1998-591, which prohibits this sort of self-agrandizement. More evidence of the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. Now some readers may be of the mindset that  "this person served Canada in the Second World War, Korea or in the Cold War, who are we to go after them for adding something." Well, the fact is that their contemporaries didn't dress up their medal groups with "fake medals," if they were serving members of the CF they would be charged for wearing "fake medals" and it is just patently wrong to engage in this sort of behaviour. 

How not to wear your medals
For those of you interested, the bad example is a UK veteran. On the left side, in addition to his 39-45 Star, Atlantic Star and 39-45 War Medal he has added the Dunkirk Medal (unofficial), and the Atlantic Convoy Medal (unofficial). His right breast is decorated with two Russian awards (one of which is almost certainly approved for wear in the UK for members of the Royal Navy who were involved in the northern convoys) the other two are indistinguishable