PinSouce – Your Lapel Pin History Lesson
The significance of lapel pins has varied dramatically since their inception during the American Civil War. Originally, these pins were worn by all soldiers as a unit marker. This made it easy to quickly organize large amounts of troops in the field. While at first they were worn simply for ease of identification and organization, the pins quickly became a source of pride among the troops. Lapel pins quickly became a source of unification and camaraderie in a time of strong division for the nation.
In World War I, the significance of lapel pins changed. Instead of being used to indicate troops’ unit affiliation, the pins were bestowed upon individuals in recognition of bravery and exemplary commitment to service. This practice continues to this day. Honorary pins are often a source of great pride for servicemen and women, and are frequently handed down the line, from generation to generation.
Following the First World War, lapel pins and button badges became a popular way for people to display their affiliation with political or social groups. This became particularly prevalent in the 1960s. During the turmoil and uncertainty of the Civil Rights era, lapel pins and button badges became common emblems indicating strong affiliation with, or against, the movement for social and civil equality.
During the late 70s and 80s, this trend re-emerged. However, like pretty much everything in the 80s, pins were less about making any sort of significant statement and more about the fad of accumulating as many as possible.
It’s interesting to look back at how the use of lapel pins has changed over the years. Even more interesting is that their particular use at any given moment in history bears a vague reflection of the times themselves. From their use as a quick reference in a disorganized, brother against brother civil war and the honor-bound service in the First World War, to their use as political banners in the slogan-shouting 60s and crass egocentrism of the 80s, the changing application of lapel pins is quite distinctive of each generation that has embraced them.
It’s only a matter of speculation what the current generation’s choice in pins will say about them, but if history has shown us anything, it will likely be a fair representation.
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