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History of Dog Tags

You’ve seen these hanging around the necks of people in the service and you may have also seen these being worn by teens and young adults as accessories. Dog tags are not a rarity and have, in fact, been used as other things aside from neck gear. These have been used as identification tags for bags, medication information tags and even as key tags, which then makes you wonder, where did dog tags originate from?

The primary use of dog tags is for the identification of military personnel and their creation came about due to soldiers dying in battle and remaining unidentified, even after they got buried. During the civil war, soldiers were left to their own devices when it came to finding ways for people to identify them should they die. Some created wooden tags with carved names into it that they wore around their necks on a string while others simply wrote their names on paper and pinned these to their clothes.

This particular lack of an identification method for soldiers resulted in thousands of them dying without being recognized and acknowledged. Unidentified soldiers were buried in graves that were marked with the word “unknown” in the past, which was why a drive to create an “identity disc” that can tell you who a combatant was started in the late 1800s. It was said that Chaplain Charles C. Pierce, a US Army chaplain and head of the Office of Identification in the Philippines in the early 1900s, made a recommendation that this identifying disc become a part of a soldier’s combat field kit.

This advocacy got adopted by the armed forces in 1913 and four years later, every soldier geared for combat had a disc with their identity around their necks. By the time World War II rolled around, the circular disc soon gave way to the oblong one that is still in use today. The term “dog tags” came about and was used on these identification tags due to the fact that these look like the tags that are used on dogs and other pets. These tags are worn around the neck with the use of a ball chain and come in pairs.

These days, dog tags are created not only for use by the military but for anyone who wants an identifying tag made of metal for their particular needs. These can be easily customized and usually see themselves painted with intricate designs for use as accessories. These tags, while originally made with aluminum, can now be made using a variety of metals, depending on what the person wants, for non-military use, that is.