Military Insignia, Part Two: Colors

Posted by Devin on 11/22/2013 to Military Displays
The use of colors in military insignia, unit crests and uniforms has a long and storied history, dating back to the earliest incarnations of military units. The ancient horse soldiers in Europe and Asia wore brightly colored scarves, hats and other articles of clothing as ways to distinguish one unit from another, as they were often moving much too quickly for smaller details to be recognized, but colors could be seen at virtually any speed.

As uniforms and military structuring evolved, so did our use of colors, as well as the thought processes and psychology that went into choosing the colors. While uniforms worn in the field downgraded the use of colors in the interests of camouflage, the dress uniforms compensated by becoming even more colorful. Ribbons were added in a rainbow of different hues, and military insignia began using the colors to represent the core beliefs and principles that commanders wanted their troops to embody. Here is a breakdown of some of the different colors in today's military insignia, and the principles they have come to stand for.

Red: Among all the colors, red has remained true to its meaning of courage or bravery, as well as personal sacrifice.
Green: Disregarding camouflage or olive drab, which basically mean "I hope you can't see me," green is usually chosen to represent hope and optimism.
Orange: Bold and daring, the color orange represents strength, endurance and perserverence.
Blue: Blue represents trust, peace and strength of character, and is one of the most used colors in military insignia today.
Yellow: Yellow, as well as gold, have long been used to symbolize honor, loyalty and adherence to a code.
Purple: Perhaps a little cocky, purple represents eliteness and superiority.
White: While technically not a color, but a lack of color, white is the traditional color used to show faith and purity.

In our final installment of this series, we'll take a look at the myriad shapes used in today's military insignia.