MFDC article on how to display military medals in a shadow box
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Proper placement of military medals, insignia, badges, patches and photos into a memorial shadow box.
First of all, as the recipient of the medals, think about how the military is structured. 1) Very Orderly; everything has a place. 2) Rank; (Army Example) From General to Private.

When you are placing the items in a shadow box or other display I would recommend placing the Insignia on top followed by the Medals (decorations) (from highest honor downwards). Then the Ribbons, then the Badges, (combat inf.badge, parachute badge, medical field badge, then rifle badges, bayonet badge etc). Then place the Patch of the division that your soldier fought or served with. Then your loved ones Photo. This type of "order" is what is generally found when displaying medals. What type of "lay out" you choose, is totally up to you. There is no specific procedure for the layout.

These all don't have to be in rows (One below the other) you can group these any way you like. As long as each item (medals,badges,ribbons,etc.) stay grouped with each other. Or as I was told: 'the format of the display should be such that each item can be clearly observed and the like items are with like items.' (

Example as follows:   Korean War Veteran, Jan. '51-Dec. '51 Special Operations, 8th Army G-3 Unit.
Decorations; One silver star, two bronze stars, and two purple hearts. Multiple Ribbons and Badges.
          (branch insignia)                                                           (Rank-Insignia)                         
        1st Special Forces                                                                 E-2                                  
                    Silver           Bronze          Bronze               Purple          Purple                              
                    star             star              star                  heart           heart                               
                   Ribbon          Ribbon           Ribbon               Ribbon         Ribbon                              
                         Combat                                                Parachute                                                                  Infantryman                                           badge                                             
               Photo                                     Airborne                                Photo                                                                                      8th Army G-3                                                              
                                                          Unit Patch                                                                                                                                                                                                          
As previously stated, you can place the items anyway you like as long as the "like items stay grouped with like items".
You can quarter your shadow box off and have the photo of your loved one in the center, slightly raised so that it stands out from the rest. The layout is purely a personal choice.
Displaying Military Medals in a Shadow Box
Below are links to the areas I researched. They explain about the medal, when it originated, the NSN # (for replacement). The medals are shown in the order of highest honors and below. From left to right unless they are listed one below the other. This first link has the most information about the medals.

Of the three departments of the Military that I spoke with this is the accepted order in which all awards are to be placed when displayed.

No information was given on the exact location of any one award, badge, insignia or patch. You may display them in any way you wish as long as, 'Like items stay with like items' and they are presented from highest honors and below. (Navy)  (Marines)

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