A military decoration is a decoration given to military personnel or units for heroism in battle or distinguished service. They are designed to be worn on military uniform.
Civil decorations awarded to military personnel should not be considered military decorations, although some orders of chivalry have civil and military divisions. Decorations received by police and fire brigade personnel may sometimes be considered alongside military decorations, on which they may be modelled, although they are strictly not military awards.
Decorations have been known since ancient times. Celts and Romans wore a torc or an arrow without a head, Dayaks wore and still wear tattoos, etc. Necklaces and bracelets were given during the early Middle Ages, evolving into richly jewelled big necklaces, often with a pendant (commonly a medal) attached.
Today military decorations include:
- Orders of Chivalry;
- Bravery awards, in the form of a cross, star or medal on a ribbon;
- Distinguished service awards, in the form of a cross, star or medal on a ribbon;
- Campaign medals worn on a ribbon;
- Service medals worn on a ribbon;
- Awards for entire units.
In most NATO militaries only ribbons are normally worn on everyday occasions.
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