Thursday, 10 November 2016


I got to thinking about medals. I don't mean the olympic sort. I mean the things you win for killing or dying bravely.

They're good things to earn. They accord you respect in society.

That's why Generals have so many. They're the very bravest  of all, and thus they are held in high esteem by everybody.

The awarding of medals is widespread across much of the human culture I'm familiar with. From Andorra to China. How far back in time it stretches I have no idea. I'm sure a few minutes looking would tell me all I wanted to know.

But what I was thinking about is the etymology of medal names. What came first? The medal or the name?

Clearly, something like the Victoria Cross had it's name allocated to it by the State, and it's a signpost towards the values and culture of the British State back in the 19th century. I suspect most medals do this.

But what about the Purple Heart?

Did the comissioners of the medal go to a medal designer and say "Can you design a medal called the purple heart for us please? And make it good. This is going to be a damn good medal to have." Or did they say "Can you design a really shit hot medal for us please?", and what came out of it was something purple and heart shaped, after which the name got attached to it.?

If the latter, who named it? Did the name evolve or was some executive decision ordered? Perhaps there was a public vote?

Medally McMedalface.

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