If you’ve spent any amount of time in the service, you’ve built up a large fruit salad. You will almost certainly need a good magnetic ribbon rack to keep track of your ribbons.
And, any time the US becomes involved in another skirmish, you can expect another ribbon, one which may change up the order of your ribbons.
That’s why it’s important for you to carefully consider what kind of ribbon rack you will use.
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The ribbon rack evolved from a practical need; as the US engaged in more military activities, a practical solution had to be adapted to supplement the medals that one would receive for service. While medals displayed one’s accomplishments, they could be cumbersome to wear, especially as a service member began accruing more accolades.
Ribbons are easier to wear, make less noise when moving, and can be placed on a board that allows them to be transported together conveniently.
Medals are, of course, still issued to this day, but ribbons were authorized as more service members began to receive awards for service in the field. Medals work well for a formal uniform, but ribbons perform better on duty uniforms.
Some 90 years after the ribbon rack was first approved, the military approved the use of thin ribbons. The difference is in the name; the ribbons are thinner, thus making them more lightweight. Thin ribbon racks cannot be altered like a standard ribbon rack; rather, the racks are affixed permanently into place. These ribbons cannot be slid off the rack as standard ribbons can.
Traditional ribbon racks are fine, of course, but thin ribbon racks have come more in vogue lately. Part of their appeal is that they have flat, sharp corners that don’t fray like traditional ribbon racks can.
They also look clean and crisp, almost as if they’ve been starched. The extra element of professionalism and class will make your fruit salad look more impressive, without becoming too ostentatious or overbearing.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal taste, as some prefer the sleekness of the thin ribbons, while others prefer the simplicity and personal customizability of the traditional ribbons. And, there is the cost to take into account, as thin ribbons do tend to cost a little more than standard. But, for the difference in weight and the sleek, elegant design, you get what you pay for.
First, you will want to check the reviews for whatever rack you choose. Specifically, check the middle-of-the-road reviews; not all one-star and five-star reviews are honest, but can come from vote brigading (large swaths of votes that are made explicitly to change the overall average review score for a company) from either supporters of or detractors from a company. Reviews that are in the middle can tell you what to expect when it comes to a company’s products, both the positive and the negative.
Keep an eye out specifically for companies that guarantee that they use heraldry-approved ribbon stock. Most companies will be careful to do this, but it is important to keep an eye out for scammers, who will not take as much care to make counterfeit products.
Racks can often start at around $10.00, but the price can increase with the amount of heraldry one has. You don’t want to go for the cheapest one, simply because the quality may not be as solid, but the most expensive options aren’t necessarily best, either.
Other things to keep an eye out for when reviewing the product in question is the strength of the company’s customer service, and the durability of the individual ribbon racks.