Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Some Things are Best Left Alone
There is so much rich history to Dog Tags...
At the American Civil War battle of Cold Harbor in 1864, before Union troops made a frontal assault on Confederate trenches, they wrote their names on pieces of paper and pinned them to their uniforms.. They did not want to be forgotten.
During the Spanish American War, Chaplain Charles E Pierce believed the identity of war dead should be practiced on a more scientific basis. He suggested a central collection agency where mortuary records would be gathered, and the addition of an "Identity Disk" in every Soldier's combat field kit. This "Identity Disk," in 1899,is considered the first institutionalized identification tag.
U-S troops were issued identification tags en masse in 1908 and the tags have been a required part of the uniform ever since.
The nickname for the ID tag was first coined by William Randolph Hearst who printed unfavorable stories about the New Deal and President Roosevelt in 1936. Having heard the Social Security Administration was considering the use of a nameplate for personal identification, Hearst called it a "Dog Tag". Recently, the U.S. Army stopped using the term "Dog tags", replacing it with "I.D tags".
The dog tag is a daily reminder that in the professions of arms, to be forgotten is the cruelest fate. The dog tag is more than 100 years old, and this little piece of metal connects us to those slain defenders. To each it might mean something different, but to the millions of service members, past and present who were required to wear one, the Dog Tag is a symbol of service and personal sacrifice. Most importantly, it is a reminder of the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice.
These small pieces of metal hanging from the neck of every servicemember are intended to help identify remains of the fallen and have been a uniform requirement since World War I. Science has come a long way since then and future identification system just might render them obsolete, but the name, image, and personal connection many feel to their tags go beyond their simple, primary purpose.
Thanks to "Pray For Our Soldiers" bulletin for this rich history lesson.
In this ever-changing, high-tech world we live in... aren't some things best left alone?
We must never forget!