The Great War at 100

100 years ago: very few people can say they were alive, and even fewer can admit to remembering much of anything from 1914, in the late summer. Women still could not vote. America’s veteran population consisted of men who fought in the Civil War and the Spanish American War. Wrigley Field was in its fledgling year, hosting a new Chicago baseball team called the Cubs. And on this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie, were assassinated while in Serbia by a Slavic nationalist, which started World War One.

100 years later, armchair quarterbacks go over the strategies of the 32 countries who all found themselves involved in The Great War. But what resonates most strongly with people who study this very pivotal period in history is the personal affects that remain: the151 letters, the uniforms, the medals and lapel pins earned through bravery and teamwork. Because while the decisions made during the heat of battle continue to effect our current world relations, for the average American like you and me, it’s the personal connections we can make to this far distant history that really help us understand what World War One was all about.

Over 65 million men fought in World War One from all over the world, with and against each other. As of 2008, the last surviving veteran of World War One passed away, an American man named Frank Buckles. He’d joined the army at 16 by claiming he had no birth certificate, only the family bible, to denote his birth, and therefore couldn’t prove he was or wasn’t 18, which he was hoping recruiters believed he was. He also fought in World War Two before settling down to raise a family in West Virginia. His legacy is kept alive through his grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the mementos he left behind. And for the millions of men who perhaps otherwise never would have had their life recorded or remembered in any way (this was long before social media and phone/cameras) are forever memorialized through the honors they earned in the war, and the medals, lapel pins and lives they touched during The Great War.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

FIFA World Cup Champs: not Germany, but these impressive pin collectors!

I admit that I watched a fair amount of this year’s just-completed FIFA World Cup, despite not being what I would consider an expert in soccer. The fact that I call it soccer instead of “football” alone labels me as a novice. But it was very cool to see such talent come together from all over the world and take part in something both physically challenging and so patriotic.  Every member of every team was playing for his country, not just himself or his team. So overall it was a thrilling experience to watch the teams winnow down to the final between Argentina and Germany.

Fans at the World Cup were almost as fun to watch, however. Their costumes made them quite the patriotic spectacle, and crowd shots were always entertaining. And I admit thatS340 without the vuvuzelas creating the non-stop drone as a backdrop to the 2010 games, this time around was much more enjoyable all around. As for those who went to the games, not only did they come dressed to impress, they all left with tons of souvenirs from the event. Notably, a father and son from India managed to collect lapel pins from all 32 teams, but for them that’s just the tip of the ice burg.

These two boast a collection of over 700 rare lapel pins from every sporting event from badminton to hockey, as well as Olympic pins. The passion is divided between sports and pin collecting, with the event or the sport in question creating the same fervor in them regardless.

As someone who makes lapel pins for a living I can attest that 700 lapel pins in general is quite a collection, but to have a specialized set like the Bhat’s is extremely impressive. Hats off to you two!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Service Technician Appreciation Day!

Ah technology. What would we do without it? It’s a question we end up answering ourselves when, for whatever mysterious reason, our computer system crashes. At work this means a loss of productivity, a loss of income for the company, and lets face it, a lot of staring blankly at cube walls because without our computers, in the 21st century, industry comes to a screeching halt. But thankfully, system administrators are always there, coming to the rescue to demystify the problem and untangle the literal and figurative cords in order to restore connectivity and productivity. And on the 25th we thank them during System Administrator Appreciation Day!

Seriously, these individuals are proverbial heroes in whatever setting they’re placed into. Whether it’s your standard office, a shipping company, department store or the US government, without system admins, the entire country would grind to a halt. And while S80that’s their job, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a huge thank you for the number of times they’ve gone above and beyond “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?”.

It doesn’t need to be expensive, especially since budgets are still tight for most businesses, and big presentations take up too much time during the day. A card signed by everyone in the office, plus a small token like a “world’s best” mug or something like a recognition lapel pin will go a long way to reminding system admins that they’re more than just the office techie, they’re both Clark Kent AND Superman.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Summertime… and the living (can be) easy

A diagnosis of cancer is devastating. It’s also most of the time a complete surprise. Cancer runs in most families, in some form or another, so the possibility is there for most of us at some point in our lives, and requires our attention, as well as regular physicals. But just because cancer is a reality that most of us have to face does not mean we have no control over lowering these risks. Skin cancer is one form of cancer that is largely preventable through our own actions. It is also one of the most common forms of cancer, so to minimize or prevent it can take a big bite out of a person’s cancer risks. It’s all down to UV rays.

July is UV Safety Month. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the ways in which people can minimize or prevent raising their risk of skin cancer. It’s simple things like wearing 511sunscreen (and lots of it) and doing your best to enjoy the sunshine and summertime in a smart way. Preventing sunburn, wearing UV protective sunglasses, sunscreen, and even just big floppy hats are all ways you can limit your likelihood of getting skin cancer.

It sounds simple I know, but every year 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed. So awareness and reminders are key. Some skincare companies, swimsuit designers and other summertime industries are creating awareness lapel pins to give out with their products as a way to help people keep skin protection on their mind. Others include written information about the risks and the ways to help prevent UV damage.

However you remember: this blog, awareness lapel pins, the American Cancer Association Website, do yourself a favor this summer and enjoy it: worry free!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Where are you going? Where have you been?

Everyone these days has a ‘bucket list’, don’t they? Those ever growing lists of things that people hope to do before they kick the proverbial bucket. Everything from climbing Mount Everest to learning to play the harp, we all have a unique set of skills and experiences we hope we get a chance at in our lives. Something that I hear more often than anything else though? Travel. I think everyone has wanderlust to some degree or another, myself included.

I would love to see the whole world, of course, from east to west, but that’s a goal that will 10561certainly take my whole life to achieve. More immediately, I’d love to visit every state in the USA. We have a beautiful, diverse, amazing country, and every state has something unique to offer those who visit it. And if nothing else, I’m going to have mementos from all 50 states at some point.

Visiting different states can be like visiting a different country. They all have their own slang, their own claims to fame, their own exports, everything. And the touristy souvenirs that each state sells often represent those most recognizable aspects of their state. I personally go for the state shape lapel pins, because they’re all unique, but when I put the ones I’ve collected together, they form what equates to my list of “already visited” states. It’s a living tally of where I’ve been, and the gaps, those are the places yet to go, the lapel pins yet to find. I look at my collection sometimes and think of it like a scavenger hunt. And it’s just a matter of time before my cork board has a complete map of the United States on it, from lapel to shining lapel.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

How to “Take Control” of Cancer

If you watch Good Morning America regularly, then you are most likely aware of ABC News correspondent Amy Robach and her recent breast cancer diagnosis. Robach received the sad news in October after having a mammogram done on air for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Robach has remained on air while receiving treatments and just this past week revealed a new shorter hairdo. The newscaster made the decision to cut her hair when she noticed she was beginning to lose it as a result of her chemotherapy. She decided on the makeover as a way of taking control of her cancer. Many people are rooting for Robach and are hoping to see a survival bracelet on her wrist shortly. Here are some ways that you too can take control of cancer.

Document It – Whenever someone receives a cancer diagnosis, it’s a surprise. People are 2981flooded with emotions and it’s sometimes hard to sort through them all. Getting through cancer treatments is physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. Many cancer survivors have found great joy in writing about their journeys, as it’s extremely therapeutic and helps process the experience. You can choose to keep a private journal or you may opt to blog where family and friends can read your thoughts.

Talk About It – There are countless cancer support groups out there that act as safe havens for many people battling the disease. Talking to others who are going through the same thing is very comforting, and, according to a Stanford University Medical Center study, support groups can even prolong your survival. The study reports that breast cancer patients who belonged to a support group survived twice as long on average as patients who did not.

Exercise – Robach has spoken on air about how chemotherapy has taken a huge toll on her body and the fatigue that she has experienced. Exhaustion is a common side effect of treatment, but rest is not the best way to treat it. Exercise is actually the best thing for fatigue, so it’s important to incorporate movement into your schedule. It’s important not to overtire yourself, however, so you should stick to light activities such as walking, yoga, or swimming.

Keeping a positive attitude, like Robach, is also a great way to take control of cancer. It’s normal to be afraid, but remaining optimistic is key in fighting this disease. Keep your eye on the prize and visualize that paracord bracelet that will be proudly displayed on your wrist.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Celebrate Presidents’ Day throughout The Year

President’s Day is celebrated the third Monday in February each year. Americans recognize this holiday as day to celebrate the lives of all of the presidents that have served our country. People choose to celebrate this holiday in a number of different ways and usually show their admiration by proudly displaying their American pride with lapel pins and other decorations. Like many holidays, lapel pins can help people celebrate far beyond a single date on the calendar.

History of Presidents’ Day

Although many people refer to this holiday as Presidents’ Day, the correct name of the holiday is actually Washington’s Birthday. George Washington is the reason this holiday began being celebrated all the way back in 1796. It wasn’t until 1880 that Washington’s Birthday became the first federal holiday and was celebrated every February 22nd until 1968. It was this year that Congress introduced the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which switched federal holidays to Mondays to give United States workers as many long weekends as possible. Although it has been discussed to officially change the holiday’s name to Presidents’ Day, it was never officially or formally switched.

How We Celebrate

Since the holiday falls between February 15th and 22nd each year, many people take the opportunity to specifically honor both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose 1116birthday is on 22nd. Other people also use the day to celebrate all of our country’s presidents, both past and present. There are many things Americans can do to celebrate this holiday and it’s a great day to display American pride by wearing patriotic lapel pins and other American inspired apparel and accessories. Americans throughout the country also enjoy participating in celebrations, reenactments and other events that feature the lives of the leaders of our country. Many schools use the month of February to celebrate and study the accomplishments and lives of the presidents of the United States, typically putting a larger focus on the lives of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

Make it a point this year to acknowledge the reason why Presidents’ Day is considered a federal holiday. Rather then viewing the day as an opportunity to have a day off from work to go shopping, take the time to reflect and celebrate this important American holiday throughout the year. Without American leadership, we would not be where we are today … living in the home of the brave and the free.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Safety First!

We wear helmets when we ride our bikes, seat belts when we’re in the car, and we wash our hands after handling things like raw meat or after taking the garbage out. As a culture we tend to think we’re fairly safety minded, and take heed of safety precautions, but surprisingly, accidental injury is at an all-time high. Because of this and many other reasons, National Safety Month exists!

National Safety Month aims to look at more than just the obvious methods for avoiding 17injury, and seeks to remind the American public about the less obvious causes of injury both at work and out and about. Things like not driving when tired, or texting on the road, as well as at work issues such as repetitive motion injuries, and stressing the benefits of ergonomic office products.

So during June the National Safety Council works hard to get the word out throughout the country by providing seminars, distributing written material to businesses, and providing promotional items to help keep safety on the public’s mind. Items like fridge magnets, key rings, and safety lapel pins can be fun ways to help keep a person’s attention on all the ways a person can work towards making their lives safer and therefore, more productive.

While nationally the council works to promote safe work and life practices, individual companies and cities have their own initiatives and focus in on safety issues unique to their industry or location, whether that means physical safety for construction sites, or water safety for cities near the ocean or lakes. But the methods for teaching are the same regardless of the content: public events, printed teaching material, and free, fun swag like rubber bracelets and safety lapel pins.

However your company or community chooses to address safety issues, do your part to help raise awareness in June, and throughout the year, about the safety issues that matter to you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

4 Perfect Pins for Men’s Health Week

Men’s Health Week is June 9-15, 2014 and it’s the perfect time to think about what you (or the man in your life) is doing to keep healthy. It’s also a good time to show off your support of men’s health and raise awareness, and there is no better way to do that than with pins. Here are a few pins that are perfect for the occasion:

1. Cancer Awareness Pins. While cancer is not a disease specific to men, it does affect millions of men a year. Cancer awareness pins will mostly be ribbons with colors specific to the type of cancer, or often silver and blue for cancer generally. By wearing a cancer awareness pin you invite questions about your dedication to the cause of curing cancer. Starting conversations can help educate and inform people—maybe even save a life. It’s a wonderful way to show support for men’s health whether your family has been plagued by the disease or you yourself or a survivor.

2. Heart Disease Pins. Unlike cancer, heart disease is a condition that affects more men706NEW than women. For a variety of reasons, from physiology to diet to lifestyle, men are more likely to end up with high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease than women are. This can end up leading to a heart attack or other life-threatening conditions. Many men in their 40’s or older have to pay close attention to what they eat and how much exercise they get in order to manage cholesterol and blood pressure, and a heart disease pin is a great way to show support for this responsible lifestyle management.

3. Sports Pins. Men love sports, and as it turns out sports are a terrific way to stay healthy. Many men only play sports in their youth and then slip into a more sedentary lifestyle by their mid 20s. But men who continue to play sports, whether in a formal league with teams or by just getting together with buddies once a week, get valuable exercise that can help prevent diabetes, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol. Sports pins don’t need to be for a specific team—they can just be for the sport you always loved playing.

4. Custom Pins. Did you know custom pins can be made for virtually any occasion? You could have Men’s Health Week pins, a custom pin for your buddies’ pickup basketball group, or any other pin you could imagine!

What are you planning for Men’s Health Week? Will you help the cause by wearing one of our pins?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

A Brief History of Marine Corps Challenge Coins

Whether you’re in the military yourself, have a relative who is, or you’re just interested in collecting military paraphernalia, the use of challenge coins is perhaps one of the most interesting customs – and the coins themselves, in an amazing array of variations for different units and purposes, are great keepsakes.

While used in all branches of the service, no one seems to love challenge coins as much as the U.S. Marine Corps. There are probably more variations of Marine Corps challenge coins than any other branch has, and they are still in active use for “challenges” by Marines today.

But where do challenge coins come from?


The truth is no one knows the exact origin of challenge coins, but there are several plausible legends. The earliest of them starts in World War I, “the Great War”. As cn7361volunteer American pilots flocked to Europe to join the French air corps, it’s said that a unit commander honored their bravery and selflessness by having solid bronze coins struck with their unit insignia and giving one to each man. One of these pilots was later shot down behind German lines. He was able to escape by stealing civilian clothes to wear, but when he reached French lines they suspected he was a spy or saboteur. They were about to execute him when he showed them his coin, and recognizing the unit insignia they spared him. If true, this was the first “challenge” and the lucky airman was returned to active duty.

Other legends place the origin of challenge coins in World War II, the Korean War, the Philippines or later. Unlike the WWI story, all of these variants have the coins made deliberately to identify undercover members of a unit: sometimes the coins were stamped with the insignia, other times they were normal coins but the agent was told to bring a specific denomination from a specific year. Only by showing this coin could he prove who he was.

How to Challenge

In the Marine Corps the rules of the challenge have become almost sacrosanct. Every member of a unit should carry their Marine Corps Challenge Coin at all times, and if they neglect to do so they could lose the challenge. Any Marine can pull out his challenge coin and tap or slam it on the table in front of any other member of his unit, “challenging” them. If they can immediately display their own coin, he owes them a drink; if they can’t, they owe him one. Some units have their own variant rules.

Nowadays, Marine Corps challenge coins are not only carried as a sign of membership in a unit, they are also given as awards by commanders.

Do you have any Marine Corps challenge coins? We have an array you can add to your collection.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off