Medals mean jack shit. I got a tobacco tin full of them going back a bunch of generations. They made no one’s life better. Didn’t put food on the table. A lot of them are of the “I was there” variety. Nothing exotic. No life or death charges, just people wanting not to die and usually succeeding.
Yesterday I was privileged to watch the awarding of a DSO. It’s a rare thing, a bit like the Medal of Honor, except you bleed for it but keep on breathing. Our only higher award is the Victoria Cross. That tends to be given posthumously. The English are odd like that. Want the highest accolade the country bestows? Sorry, mate, you got to die to get it. There are few willing candidates, for obvious reasons.
So why bother? I certainly don’t wear mine, ever. I consider ribbon boards a bit ridiculous, to say the least. You see a General or Admiral and you think “Holy shit, you could paper a room with that thing.” It means nothing. Yet it means everything at the same time.
People like to be recognized. My Dad is probably prouder of his Singapore medal than he is of his DSM. He made a difference there. Sure, his difference was shooting a terrorist with a concrete rocket (accidentally), but still - it makes for a good story if you pour a few beers into him. When he got his medal last year, I have no idea who were prouder. Him on the dais, or me 5 rows back. Mom even cracked a smile, which is commonly considered the harbinger of the end times.
They are just bits of ribbon and tin. In themselves they mean nothing. The stories behind them mean everything.