Happy Decoration Day!… Er, Memorial Day!

Did you know? Memorial Day started out as “Decoration Day” during the aftermath of the American Civil War, as a way to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of Americans who died in shockingly short order, during the second half of the 19th century, would not be forgotten. The origin of this practice is hard to pin down, but it was originally celebrated in northern states on May 30th, which specifically did not coincide with any battle, so that all soldiers could be honored equally. For reasons of their own, the South celebrated their own Decoration Day on a date different from the North.

By World War One though, Decoration Day had become Memorial Day, and was celebrated all over the country on the last Monday in May. It was also at this time that Memorial Day grew to encompass the fallen soldiers of all wars, not just the Civil War. And in a fit of passion, an army doctor wrote “Flanders Fields” after presiding over the funeral of a fallen1507 soldier, and the vivid imagery of the poppy flower as nature’s memorial to the dead became a worldwide emblem of Memorial Day, and was then adopted for Veteran’s Day as well.

Today, Memorial Day is a celebration of fallen soldiers certainly, but it is also a day to celebrate America’s freedom, and to help veterans through the sale of poppy flowers, often provided by vets themselves in all number of places in every city and town in the US. And the poppy has certainly become the emblem of Memorial Day, emblazoned on everything from table cloths to bright red poppy lapel pins. Many organizations make special edition poppy versions of their products, with proceeds going towards veterans affairs organizations.

I’m personally a big fan of Memorial Day, not only because it’s a wonderful thing to remember the men and women in this country who gave literally everything they had to preserve the freedoms we enjoy every day, but also because it falls right next to, and sometimes on, my birthday. So poppies for me are both memorial and celebratory (and the paid vacation day isn’t a bad birthday gift!). And if you can’t find someone selling poppies around this Memorial Day, be sure to to check us out: our poppy lapel pins are a great tribute.

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Armed Forces Day is Here!

I sort of think of Armed Forces day as the pre-game holiday to Memorial Day, which falls on the 25th of May this year. Think about it: you get to celebrate every branch of the service with varying levels of activity, from parades to discounts and freebies at local businesses, and tokens of appreciation like flags and military lapel pins. The only thing it doesn’t have is a day off from work. But one thing it DOES have is that it is celebrated all over the world, though not on the same day in each country. From Argentina to Venezuela, 1507Armed Forces day is a recognized day of thanks to service men and women.

In Bulgaria it is also known as a Day of Bravery, and is celebrated on May 6th. In France it’s held on July 14 and boasts the largest and oldest military parade in all of Europe! And right here in the USA it has been celebrated during Armed Services week since the 1950’s. It was a way to support, promote, and celebrate all members of the American military, past, present and future.

Because this holiday is celebrated in big and little ways all over the country, there’s no wrong way to do it. Whether you put flags out on your lawn, donate to a military charity, wear military lapel pins or simply thank the vets and service men and women in your life, you’re doing it right! And we at PinMart want to thank all the past and present service men and women for their sacrifices: we’re the land of the free because you’re so brave!

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Teacher? Nurse? Today is your day!

Are you a teacher? Or perhaps you’re a nurse? Then today is your day! May 6th is National Teacher’s Day, and also National Nurse’s Day! And to be honest, as unique as both professions are, there are some overlaps that make both teachers and nurses some of the 711best people.

For instance, both teachers and nurses take care of us. Teachers look after our brains, nurses our bodies (unless you’re a nurse working with a brain surgeon…) but both want to make sure we’re doing the best that we can, and living our best lives. Both teachers and nurses work long hours and often put in way more than the typical 40 hour work weeks to make sure that we have bright futures. And both teachers and nurses often do all of this work without much in the way of a thank you. That ends NOW!

From PinMart to all the Teachers and Nurses out there, wherever you are: THANK YOU! 708revYou made sure we could read and write, and you patched us up when we tested our limits on the playground. You gave us the wisdom to become who we are and keep us healthy so we can keep doing what we do.

So for everyone out there who knows and loves a teacher or a nurse (so… everyone), take time today to thank your favorite educator or nurse, give them a hug, or better yet, a great lapel pin to show your gratitude.

Whatever you decide to do, do it today!

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May-Day, May-Day!

Tomorrow starts a new month, and with that new month, a new set of causes, holidays, celebrations and commemorations. It’s a lot to keep track of, especially if your business or organization is counted on to know about these things, promote them, celebrate them or raise awareness about them. I’m one of those people myself, counted on to know what’s going on on a given week or day, and honestly, I’d be lost if it weren’t for a really handy, but under-promoted page on PinMart’s website: The Awareness Calendar!

This calendar, which we update throughout the year to reflect the most accurate dates and distinctions of given holidays or awareness causes, is definitely my event calendar. It gives me a heads up on when to wear my American flag lapel pin (though I could argue that that’s a good one to wear every day!), gives me a clue as to why people are suddenly 850wearing puzzle piece lapel pins (Autism awareness in April), and when to get my dad’s father’s day card to him (June 15th). Our Cause/Awareness calendar is really thorough, and also provides good ideas on pins that can help you represent and celebrate anything upcoming.

May’s a big one, with National Teacher’s Day, National Nurse’s Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and let’s not forget about Cinco De Mayo, to name but a few important happenings over the next 31 days.

And whether you get decked out in lapel pins for all of these events, or just give your thanks and support with words and actions, check out the Awareness Calendar to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Happy May!

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Earth Day Turns 45!

Earth Day 2015 marks 45 years of celebrating this one of a kind planet that we call home. Started in 1970 as a reaction to a horrible oil spill, Earth Day organizations have spawned not only grass-roots movements but also helped bring to life the EPA, and many laws that protect both the land and the wildlife we share this earth with.

And despite being in its 45th year, the purposes behind Earth day are more important now than they ever were. Every year we have more tools with which to protect earth and to decrease our carbon footprint, and every year we need to start creating new eco-friendly habits, and inspiring others to do the same. But don’t get daunted: you can take small 710steps that will lead to big changes down the road.

Consider volunteering at a recycling center, or organizing a local recycling drive. Take the time to locate all of the local addresses and phone numbers for recycling facilities, and what they offer, and share that information at school, at work, and your extra curricular activities. Because sometimes the biggest thing holding people back from change is researching the who, what, when, where, and how.

Even just doing something as simple as wearing eco-green pins to spread the word and start conversations with people can help inspire change. PinMart has an entire line of pins that are made from recycled materials, and can be worn year round to remind others to do their part on Earth Day, and Every Day.

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Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month

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3 Tips for Coaching Your Child’s Sports Team

Do you have fond memories of your mother or father coaching a pee-wee sports team when you were younger? Do you remember having a friend’s mother or father act as an assistant coach for your softball or baseball team? There’s something wholesome about a mom or dad offering to coach a youth sports team and you may be ready to take on responsibility for your son or daughter’s sports team. You want to be the best coach you can be, so you understandably feel a little nervous. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to be a professional umpire or coach to successfully coach a pee-wee sports team; just make sure that you follow these steps:

Always be supportive

Everyone makes mistakes; even professional athletes occasionally miss shots or mess up. The kids you’re coaching may have a passion for sports, but that doesn’t mean that they’re experts. Don’t be afraid to help kids that are struggling with certain things, but don’t make them feel bad for it. Too many coaches get caught up in wanting to make their teams winners, and their drive to win makes them way too critical of their team. Don’t lose sight of what the league is supposed to be about, and don’t get too hard on the kids when they make a mistake or lose a game.

Don’t focus on your own kid

If you’re the coach of a team or league your son or daughter is in, you may subconsciously focus on what they’re doing more so than their teammates. They may already feel a little self-conscious about having their parent be their coach, and you don’t need to make it any worse by giving them too much attention. Allow your kid to mess up, learn, and make friends on their own. Watching them improve as the weeks go on will be very rewarding,415new but so will watching the rest of the kids in your league. Never play favorites, and make sure that everyone gets equal amounts of attention from their coach.

Build a team spirit

The kids may all wear the same uniform, but that doesn’t mean that they’re automatically going to work well together. As a coach, it isn’t just your job to make sure that the games go smoothly, you also have to encourage teamwork with your kids. Stress the importance of working together during games and practices, and encourage them to work together whenever they’re on the field. Consider buying them custom baseball trading pins as rewards for when they win games or overcome an obstacle. Anything you can do to encourage them to work together will help foster a healthy spirit of teamwork.

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How to Honor Our Heroes

Many people today look up to celebrities and athletes who are constantly in the spotlight. While this may be true, it’s important that they do not forget those who sacrifice their lives for others. Our men and women in uniform often go unnoticed but risk their lives every day to protect our nation’s freedoms and keep us safe from harm. They are true heroes and it’s important for individuals to honor and support them. Whether someone is a policeman, firefighter, coast guard or marine, there are plenty of ways to thank them for their service.

Here are some ways to honor everyday heroes:

Say Thanks – Ever heard the phrase “a thank you goes a long way”? Well, it’s absolutely true. Saying thank you to your servicemen and women is a great way to show your support and appreciation. Whether you see a police officer on duty in their uniform or an army veteran wearing military pins, approach them to say thanks. Their job can be difficult and disheartening, so a simple thank you can really brighten up their day and remind them why they chose their job in the first place.

Pins – Pins are the perfect way to show your support for public service and military personnel. Give military coins or public service pins as gifts for public servants in your 105family. Or, you can give one to someone who has gone above and beyond. You don’t have to be a public servant or in the military to wear a pin or challenge coin. You can get one for yourself and wear it to show your support for the cause.

Letters – Cards and letters are another great way to honor those who are in the line of duty. Have your family and friends send thank you cards during the holidays, especially to military men and women. The holiday season is a difficult time to be away from your family, so send a care package filled with cards and holiday treats to military men and women overseas. You can also encourage your child’s school to have students write cards and donate items as well. Sending a thank you card is also a great idea if you have been directly impacted by the service of others. If a police officer or firefighter went out of their way to help you in a special way, you should send a thank you card to express your gratitude.

Attend A Memorial – Honoring our heroes also means commemorating those who passed away in the line of duty. You can attend a memorial service or visit a memorial site to reflect and honor the deceased. Many communities hold memorial services on holidays, such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
How will you honor your heroes?

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MLK Day at 29

MLK day has been around ever since I can remember. But there are many people out there who remember a time before and a time after this national holiday. It was first proposed back in 1968, and finally was brought to a vote in 1979, where it failed to get through the house by five votes. Some members of congress were unconvinced that his work was worthy of being commemorated with a national holiday, but by 1983 Reagan signed the bill to create a national holiday commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and by 1986 it was observed all over the US.

And now, 29 years later, I think the importance of Dr. King’s work is clearer than ever. The news is full of things that remind us we still have a long way to go before the work that Dr. King started can be considered complete. And even though I’m at work on this day (like 171newmany of you I’m sure!) I’m proudly wearing an MLK lapel pin to remind myself and others of this ongoing struggle for racial equality.

People are afraid to bring it up, certainly. It’s a touchy subject, and not one that everyone is trained to to discuss. But even if it’s done imperfectly, these conversations still need to be had. And if broaching the subject is difficult, maybe something like an MLK lapel pin can help start the conversation for you. People speak volumes without saying a word when they wear lapel pins, whether they’re breast cancer awareness ribbons or “Proud to be a Republican” pins.

Dr. King was unable to keep pushing the conversation of racial equality, so now it’s up to us. Let’s change the tone, change the fear, change the stereotypes, and really get to the heart of the matter. Dr. King’s dream is one we can all see through, if we just start talking, and don’t stop.

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Belonging

Recent studies have shown that belonging to a group is important to both our physical and mental health. When we belong to a group we tend to maintain better psychological health and are usually in better physical health. Some of the studies conducted created two groups: the first asked people to think about the groups they belonged to and the second asked people to think about the value of other people and help others had provided them. Then they asked both groups how much meaning they felt life had. The group which was asked to think about the groups they belonged to responded with a much higher value about the meaning of life.

It’s not really a surprise that these studies came out this way. If we look back through history we can see that humanity has banded into groups since the time we were hunter gatherers. Groups have always been an important part of society and will probably continue to be. One fun aspect about being in a club is having a small token that shows your membership. A good example of this small token is custom coins. Custom challenge coins have been employed by many groups for a long time. A challenge coin is a two sided coin that bears a logo or insignia of the organization its owner belongs to. The meaning behind calling it a ‘challenge coin’ is when people in the group want to reaffirm that each other belong to the same one, they can challenge each other. Then they reveal their coin and if they’re from the same group they will have the same coin.
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Another great aspect of belonging is the feeling that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. Many organizations and groups will last longer than our lifetime and have existed since before we were born. This gives us a link to past generations and to future generations. It helps us feel like there is more meaning in our lives, and often a group is a great place for finding support when we are in times of need. Many soldiers refer to other members of their squadrons and platoons as brothers because of the bonds they develop in the heat of battle. They look out for and care for each other. Be sure to find a group that values you, and find relationships that are high in quality, for that is more important than quantity.

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