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What Next?

Back in the 1890’s through the early 1900’s being a member on the local National Guard Regiment was often like being the member of an exclusive club especially if the regiment was an elite unit from a wealthy area. Back in those days it was not uncommon for someone or some group to privately fund and establish a medal or an award just for a certain regiment. Such awards were usually for marksmanship or long service to the unit. These regimental awards were often very large and fancy and look much more impressive than one would expect. One such medal is the Illinois National Guard’s Second Regiment long service medal. After five years service a guardsman would get a large bronze medal hanging from a broach with the number 5 in a wreath. The reverse of the medal was inscribed with the recipient’s rank, name and the date of the award. Then in another three years a silver eight year pin-back bar broach was added and the pin was removed from the five year broach. Four years later, you guessed it, a twelve year gold bar was added. If things went really well for our guardsman in another three years he would get a fifteen year eagle with a ruby to perch on top of his twelve year bar. The medal illustrated here is the only 15 year version I have ever run across and would have been awarded the fifteen year distinction in 1907. So what if the same man stayed on beyond fifteen years? I would guess that this medal was closed to further add-ons and that in another five years a special twenty year medal would have been prepared for this senior guardsman.