Testing Their Medal
A fun part of fashion season is seeing who sends the best invites for shows. But as Style.com’s resident military expert—and former captain in the Third Marine Air Wing, First Marine Expeditionary Force—I was piqued when we received invitations to the Commonwealth Utilities show, which came packaged with actual military medals. (We were sent, left to right, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal, all of which are meant to be worn with dress uniforms.)
The criteria for awarding these medals are specific and clear. The DFC is for—I’m paraphrasing slightly, but the full description is available here—an “act of heroism above and beyond the call of duty, an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from his/her comrades.” The Bronze Star: “heroic or meritorious achievement or service while engaged in an action against an enemy…” These decorations stand for something. And it’s not a seat assignment.
Am I reading too much into this? Maybe. Overreacting? Perhaps. But in times like ours, where servicemen and -women are earning these medals in combat and many are dying on a daily basis, I find the reckless disregard by CU to the honor of the uniform offensive.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking of pinning one of these freebies on and parading around in it during fashion week, you should be aware it’s illegal. In 2006, Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act, which prohibits wearing, selling, or manufacturing military decorations without authorization, as well as falsely representing oneself as having been awarded them. (You can read the full text of the act here.) It ain’t just words on paper, either—here’s a case of a man who was charged under it at the end of last year.