By Jamie Lustig

Wondered where military traditions come from, and what is considered a tradition? There are a ton of traditions that we do and don't discuss. Some well-known ones are: the coin tradition, military wedding traditions, the military ball, funeral practices, and more. A few of these might ring a bell, and some might be new to you. Don't worry, this article is going into detail about these amazing traditions and how they came about. Read on to learn where these amazing military traditions come from. And who knows, you may have participated in them yourself.

Where Do Military Traditions Come From?

There are many military traditions and the number of them continues to grow. Traditions are an important factor to bring people together in the community. The traditions that will be talked about in this article came from different times of history, making them truly unique.

The military coin tradition came from the history of Soldiers being rewarded with a Roman coin when performing an exceptional act of service, dating back to World War I.

The coin tradition is performed the same each time. However, that is not the case for military wedding traditions. There are many traditions that fall under a military wedding, and these originated from the British military custom which pledges to honor and protect the newly married couple.

The military ball tradition is a dance that celebrates the accomplishments that service members have done and originated in 1895. Celebrations are different, but there are certain elements that usually occur during this event.

There are so many military funeral traditions, and it all depends on the funeral and what the family wants. Some traditions include having gun salutes, taps, and a rider-less horse. The traditions originated from the Greeks and Romans.

The tradition of honor in the military can vary depending on the situation, which changes the look.

Find out more about each tradition and honor below.

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These 5 Military Traditions Are Rather Strange

The Coin Tradition

The coin tradition, or challenge coin, is an act where someone is recognized for a special achievement. This tradition is common throughout all branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

The tradition has been around for quite some time now, and the earliest example presented would be by the Aero Club of America.

When they completed flying, they were given medals. The club wanted to give a medal to each member, but the vast number of new pilots made it impossible once training started to truly take off.

The challenge coin is also presented by presidents, and it began with Bill Clinton. It started when he was in office and he soon took the tradition into his own hands. He displayed various military challenge coins in the oval office.

The tradition has spread to police and fire departments as well as other organizations. This is to recognize individuals' accomplishments.

Wedding Traditions

There are many military wedding traditions, and it all depends on the person and how much they want to incorporate in their wedding.

Some of the wedding traditions include:

  • Sword or saber arch - This is when six or eight service members line up in pairs and make an arch with their swords or sabers for the bride and groom to walk under.
  • Uniforms - All members should wear the same uniform that the groom decides to wear.
  • Music - Playing military music is an option, or you can play your service branch’s song.
  • Cutting the cake - Cutting the cake with a sword or saber and having the groom’s hand over the bride’s.

Military Ball Tradition

The military ball is a perfect occasion to meet other people and have a good time! There is food, drinks, and you can also bust a move on the dance floor! All branches of the military do a ball and they honor the accomplishments the service members have achieved.

The ball is not any type of ball. There are certain dress attires you have to follow, like color. There are also certain clothing items you can't wear.

Being conscious of how much skin you are showing is something you should keep in mind. Wearing dark and rich hues to match the event’s formality is recommended but not required. Some military colors include:

  • Army - gold and black
  • Marine Corps - gold and scarlet
  • Air Force - silver and ultramarine blue
  • Navy - gold and blue
  • Coast Guard - red, blue, and white

The safest option to go with is dark colors and to prioritize your comfort, so you are able to enjoy the ball and have fun! There are speeches that take place and a flag coming alongside the national anthem.

Related read: Going to a Military Ball? Here's What You Need to Know

Military Funeral Traditions

A military funeral is a way to commemorate someone who served their country. It is expected for service members to wear their uniforms and be ready to salute. This act happens when the hearse passes in front of them, when the flag-draped casket is moved, during the formal gun salute, during the playing of taps, and when the casket is lowered into the ground.

Gun salutes are a well known thing during a funeral. Three to seven men line up and perform three rifle volleys, they are the ones that fire thrice as a mark of salute.

Taps is a tradition that includes a sad piece of music played by a bugler to honor the fallen member. It has been around for decades and it is a traditional melody in the military funerals to honor the fallen members and the Veterans.

The draping flag over the casket is often seen as well. It is folded a certain way. It represents the gratitude shown to the deceased’s family for the sacrifices made by them. This tradition started during the Napoleonic Wars in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Honor Tradition in the Military

Some of the ways you can show honor when in the military is the tradition of saluting. There are many reasons why someone salutes, one of the reasons is lowering and raising the flag, another one is showing overall respect, and also saluting to officers.

In Use or Obsolete, These Traditions Remain a Part of History

Traditions in the military are an important part of being a service member or a Veteran. Traditions allow a service member to show what they have learned throughout their years of service. Additionally, taking these traditions and passing them on to others is what they are about.

Thinking about being a part of one of the military branches? Well, these are just the few of the traditions you'll be witnessing.

Suggested read: Achieving Greatness: A Closer Look at Marine Corps Medals




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