US Navy uniform buttons are beautiful and symbolic. They transcend time and have not changed too much throughout the years. One big change that happened in the late 1800’s is that the eagle was changed from facing left to facing right (symbolic of honor). I can look at my Dad’s uniforms (USNA ’59) and those of my former Midshipmen (USNA ’17, ’20 and NRTOC ’22) and they are pretty much the same. They are significant keepsakes that can mean so much to those of us left behind while they go on to their “next thing”.
I include this in my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal and am writing this short blog post about how I found my oldest Mid’s buttons.
Four+ years ago, I was up cleaning out my now LT’s room and closet at his sponsors house in preparation for his MidSib to move into the same room he had used when he was at USNA. Disclosure: I did ask for email instructions as to what to do with the items left behind and asked for permission to keep certain items as well. He was deployed at the time and had not have the opportunity to return to his sponsor’s to finish cleaning out his room and closet.
What I found in that was astounding! Beginning with snacks still in the original shoe box, neatly packed from Plebe year (they got buried in the back of his locker and then in the back of this closet); boxes and boxes of Shout wipes and Tide pens; letters, cards, notebooks from Plebe summer; and uniforms.
I came across some of his daily uniforms that he wore to class, neatly folded and with the name tags still on and also found his blueberries (blue digi cammo) which is no longer issued. I kept the cammo along with his blue coveralls from his Youngster cruise and Protramid, and eventaully used the fabric from those well-worn coveralls as sashing for my own Navy quilt. I also found his pea coat, which is beyond me they as to why they are still issued because Mids never wear it. For Mids, wearing the peacoat is tantamount to “fashion suicide”, so they would rather turn blue and freeze during winter in their light “Ike” jackets rather than wear their warm pea coat. Go figure! In any case the beautiful large, brass buttons from his pea coat were what I used to make my own bracelet.
I eventually came to find out that he threw out his parade uniform, which I also found out later on, he did not wash in four years… Ugh! I was able to salvage my daughter’s parade uniform buttons and I donated the pea coat and some of the other items to the Marine Thrift store in D.C. where enlisted and young officers can purchase the items at a fraction of the cost. There is a thrift shop near the NEX in Annapolis as well.
So here is the moral of my story – don’t find out about your Mid’s Navy uniform buttons the hard way – like I did! If you are a Firstie parent, please ask your Firstie NOT to throw away or donate their parade uniform, pea coat, daily, and other uniforms and ask them to save the brass buttons for you! I have used my former Mids’ buttons to make beautiful keepsake bracelets and have also handcrafted bracelets for friends with their own Mids’ buttons for many years now. The keepsake bracelets that I made from my son’s buttons are pictured below.
If you manage to salvage any uniform buttons, any keepsake items created from them will be very meaningful because they are YOUR Mid’s or former Mid’s buttons! If you change the buttons, you could wear the peacoat as well – much to the dismay of your Mid I am sure! As mentioned, the pea coat and other items can be donated to the Marine thrift in DC for sailors to purchase at a discount.
For information on Mid button bracelets and other beautiful keepsakes, I invite you to visit my Shop N*avy page. A portion of the net proceeds from each sale is donated to the USNA Chaplains Fund.