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.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting It Wrong, EVERY TIME

In happier times Senator Pamela Wallin was featured in one of the earliest postings on this blog in October 2010. Sadly things have not improved for the Senator who also serves as an honorary Colonel. After three years she remains totally unable to wear her medals correctly. We think it is unlikely that any officer in the Canadian Forces has ever found so many ways to wear their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly as this embattled Senator and Honorary Colonel. The Senator/Honorary Colonel has been well recognized with numerous honours; Officer of the Order of Canada (OC), Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM), 1967 Centennial Medal, 2002 Golden Jubilee Medal, 2012 Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Saskatchewan Hundredth Anniversary of Confederation Medal. This means that in her RCAF DEUs (Dress Uniform) when wearing orders, decorations and medals she should be wearing her OC at the neck, her SOM out of the first button hole and her FULL SIZE medals on the left breast... instead we see the "mix and match" approach to military dressing. I challenge readers to find us ONE photo of Senator/Colonel Wallin wearing her full size insignia correctly while in a CF uniform. Some of her errors have been so basic, it is unbelievable that no one has spent 5 minutes explaining to her how to wear her multiple honours correctly.

So a Senator, Brigadier-General, USAF Colonel and some civvie walk into a reception...
Who caused the deportment problem? The lady who forgot to wear her Order of Canada around the neck,
yet still managed to pin two miniatures; one on a bow the other a straight ribbon onto her left side. 

Perhaps the most disturbing part of this is that even the incorrectly affixed miniatures on Wallin are just haphazardly pinned on like a Rotary lapel badge or piece of jewellery. 
The haphazard approach to affixing insignia combined with
the "mix and match" method of choosing what insignia to wear.

What's wrong here? No OC at the neck, no SOM out of the first button hole and some red lapel pin attached to the left side. We are also assuming this is a parade so it is ok for the Colonel to be wearing her wedge cap indoors.
While the Air Force, now returned to being the RCAF, has long had a tradition of being relaxed when it comes to uniforms, especially DEUs, Honorary Colonel Wallin has taken this to a ridiculous level.

Our Southern Neighbour

An attentive reader recently ran across a amusing blog from the US. You're Wearing It Wrong is a fun overview of various current and former members of the US Armed Services wearing ribbons, orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. Thor Haglund, the author of the US blog hammers away at the great and the good, and the not so great whenever they are found parading themselves on the internet wearing ribbons/medals incorrectly. 

The blog notes that even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has had difficulties with wearing the correct insignia on his ribbons. The Americans have many more medals than Canada in their honours system, and dozens of devices that get attached to ribbons and undress ribbons which makes matters exceedingly complex, but this eagle eyed blogger has picked up even the most minute detail.  It is nice to know that these sorts of issues aren't limited to our fellow Canadians, but also extends to our Allies.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Medal Quiz

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee saw nearly 60,000 Canadians recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of various services. Never have so many commemorative medals been bestowed, and this has naturally resulted in all sorts of breeches of protocol.

Rather than simply post photos of the offenders along with explanations of what they are doing wrong it is time for you to do the actual work. Some of these are quite easy. Test your knowledge of wearing your medals correctly against the following photographs. Feel free to use the new Wearing Guide and CF Dress Manual (A-DH-265) to spot the offenders, some of whom are committing multiple errors. Not every person represented here is an offender!

Honorary Captain (N) Sona Bata

 Question 1

             a) nothing

       b)    should be wearing a breast star

       c)     wearing full size medals in mess dress

       d)    should be wearing a white pique vest with RCN mess dress

The Hon. John Crosbie,
former Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador

Question 2

       a)     too many neck badges

       b)    breast star is too high

       c)     medal bar not regulation length

       d)    nothing

The Hon. David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
at the Opening of Queen's Park for a Throne Speech

Question 3

       a)     nothing
       b)    wearing Knight of St. John neck insignia on a medal bar     

       c)     medals mounted too high

       d)    too many lapel pins

The Hon. David Onley
as Hon. Colonel of the Queen's York Rangers

Question 4

       a)     not wearing orders, decorations and medals he is entitled to

       b)    nothing

       c)     wrong collar dogs

       d)    needs a swagger stick

Question 5

       a)     wearing Alberta Order of Excellence in a medal bar group

       b)    medal bar too long

       c)     medal bar not long enough

       d)    wrong bar on the France and Germany Star

HRH the PRince of Wales being presented with a book during the
2009 Royal Visit by a senior officer in the Canadian Coast Guard

Question 6

       a)     RCMP officer in middle should be wearing medals, 
not just an undress ribbon

       b)    Coast Guard Officer wearing an unrecognized 
medal at the end of his group

       c)     A & B

       d)    nothing

Former OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino
Question 7

       a)     Order of Ontario not included in miniature medal group

       b)    Bar on the Police Exemplary Service Medal 
          in the wrong place

       c)     Order of Ontario should be worn from a miniature 
         ribbon around neck

       d)    A & C

Isabelle Butters, CM, SOM, being invested with the Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan

Question 8

       a)     Investitures are an occasion when only miniatures 
       should be worn

       b)    Recipient is wearing Saskatchewan Order of Merit on her medal bar when it should be on a bow or around neck

       c)     Too many medals

       d)    Swing mounting is not permitted anymore

 Brigitte, Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO.

Question 9

       a)     nothing

       b)    Wearing miniatures with full size insignia 
       during the daytime

       c)     The insignia on the yellow bow is not recognized

       d)    B & C

The great leaders of North Korea's military.
Question 10

       a)     Too many breast stars

       b)    Not enough neck decorations

       c)     Pantaloons should be covered in breast stars

       d)    This is the DPRK, anything is possible!

Answer Key: c,d,b,a,a,c,d,b,b,d.

The Problem with Honoraries

A survey of the online world reveals that many of those who hold honorary appointments in the Canadian Forces are rather clueless about how to wear their medals.  Sonja Bata who has served as an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy for many years is pictured here wearing her full size medals on mess dress. 
Honorary Captain (N) Bata

This photo explains well why we have miniature medals – full size medals look ridiculous on mess dress and are never to be worn in this fashion. It would have been much better if  Bata had decided just to wear her Officer of the Order of Canada. On the bright side at least she knew to wear her OC on a miniature ribbon. Given the good work Bata has done for the CF I feel a bit reluctant to post this, nevertheless it is a significant error and dress faux pas. 

Below is the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley who serves as honorary Colonel for a number of regiments. What's wrong with this photo? He isn't wearing any ribbons or any of his full size insignia. He is a Knight of the Order of St. John, Chancellor of the Order of Ontario and has the Canada 125 Medal and the Diamond Jubilee Medal, but for whatever reason he has decided not to wear any of them, despite the dress regulations. Here we see a CF DEU treated as just a business suit that you can pin stuff on if you want, or leave it empty. Onley features prominently in our upcoming Vice-Regal Report Card as he has thrown the wearing guide out the window. 
The Hon. David Onley,
Honorary Colonel of 25 Field Ambulance

In this next photo we find an Honorary Naval Captain, Myra Freeman wearing an unofficial Commissionaires ribbon  at the very end of her undress ribbons and on her Order of Canada ribbon she is wearing a RED maple leaf signifying that she is a COMPANION  of the Order of Canada (the highest level of the Order), when in fact she should be wearing a SILVER maple leaf as a MEMBER of the Order of Canada (most junior level of the Order). The Governor General's website confirms she is indeed a Member and not a Companion. Not a bad self inflicted promotion! The same issue appears in an earlier photo found on the web. This honorary Captain (N) was featured in one of our first posts on October 9, 2010 with a variety of issues. 
Honorary Captain Myra Freeman

Freeman's Undress Ribbons

To be fair, here is an RCAF Honorary Colonel for 439 Squadron from about a decade ago. This Honorary is well turned out aside from wearing two completely unofficial, unauthorized decoration of unknown origin. Interestingly the Honorary Colonel this offender took over from also had several green ribbons at the end of his medal group. 
Our token RCAF Honorary Colonel Offender, Ross Gaudreault
There are some honoraries who wear thier uniforms and medals correctly. Not surprisingly, as one recent commentator on this Blog noted, most of them tend to be retired members of the military. 

All this highlights a serious problem with the Honorary Captains(N) / Honorary Colonels program run by the Canadian Forces. So many of these dress-up officers have no clue how to wear a CF uniform and the accompanying insignia that they are entitled to. It is difficult to understand why no one has nicely corrected them in their various errors. It would save the regiment(s) embarrassment and set a good example for the regular and reserve members of the CF. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So Many Errors: Offender of the Summer

A loyal reader came across this photo of Roy H. Vickers, CM, OBC, displayed on the front of a magazine. Mr. Vickers is a well regarded artist and motivational speaker. We can only hope that he does not wear his medals frequently. It is also our sincere hope that in speaking motivationally he does not delve into the topic of wearing medals.

So what all is wrong with our Offender of the Summer as shown on the right? We will not pass judgement on his lack of a neck or bow tie.

Mr. Hugo Vickers (aka Mr. Wrong)

Around his neck, where he should be wearing his full size Order of British Columbia, we see Mr. Vickers wearing some sort of amulet? Perhaps he has been watching too many Dracula movies.

When dressing as Count Dracula,
avec amulet/neck doodad,
you do not wear full or miniature
size medals on the breast.

When wearing medals gentlemen should refrain from wearing amulets or necklaces -- this is a rule that will serve any man well, regardless of whether or not he is wearing medals. If you happen to be Dracula or a member of his clan you are exempted from this rule thanks to Hollywood custom. 

Placing the lack of a neck or bow tie and presence of the amulet/neck doodad to the side, we pass to Mr. Vickers' group. He seems to be following the mix-and-match method of medal wear. The Member of the Order of Canada insignia is being worn correctly, then we have a miniature Order of British Columbia, for which there is NEVER an occasion to wear when also wearing your full size insignia Member of the Order of Canada insignia or full size medals. This is followed by a blue and white ribbon, which looks very much like the ribbon from the Egypt Medal (1882-1889), a medal awarded to just under 400 Canadians who served as boatmen on the Nile in the 1880s. Perhaps Mr. Vickers is wearing this in honour of some long departed relative who served on the Nile. Needless to say, this blue and white ribbon needs to be removed. The Egypt Medal ribbon is followed by his Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in full size form, which is correct. 

Mr. Vickers, given that you received a Diamond Jubilee Medal last year, we here at Wearing Your Medals Wrong strongly suggest that you have your medals properly mounted. Your full size group (for wear during the day) should display as follows:-  Member of the Order of Canada, Golden Jubilee Medal and Diamond Jubilee Medal, with your Order of British Columbia worn around the neck (in place of the amulet thing you have on in the photo presented here). For your miniature group (for wear in the evening) you will have to purchase these yourself, other than the miniature OBC which you already have, and your mini group should display:- Member of the Order of Canada, Order of British Columbia, Golden Jubilee Medal, Diamond Jubilee Medal, and you should wear your full size OBC around your neck on a miniature ribbon. Any military tailor will be able to assist you in correcting your medals faux pas. We are a forgiving lot here at Wearing Your Medals Wrong and would take great pleasure in adding an entry about how you have reformed.