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Friday, November 18, 2016

The Blazing Sword Alternative to a Safety Pin

SHAEF insignia in pin format.
$7.50 & free shipping from Vet Friends.
My thoughts regarding the whole safety pin thing boil down to "That's a cute form of bullshit activism, but why don't you wear a symbol that represents actually doing something to help people?"

This is something that's been gnawing at me for a while know, because people have asked me for Blazing Sword-style alternatives to the safety pin that show they will actually help people protect themselves rather than just raise awareness or display solidarity.

And then today, my prayer was answered by OBS member Wyatt Parsons, who introduced me to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) insignia (right). Per this Army fact sheet, the heraldry is as follows:

The black shield, changed to dark blue when redesignated for the Headquarters U.S. Forces, European Theater in 1945, represented the darkness of oppression. The sword of liberation with rising flames represents justice by which the enemy power will be broken. Above the sword is a rainbow, emblematic of hope, containing the colors of the National Flags of the Allies. The sky blue above the rainbow represents a state of peace and tranquility to be restored to
the enslaved people by the United Nations.


So not only is this an insignia representing Good Defeating Evil, it also has the delightful congruence of a flaming (blazing) sword and the LGBTQ rainbow. This made it perfect as far as I was concerned, and I went looking to see if SHAEF pins could be bought. As it turns out, yes they can, for $7.50 and free shipping.

(Aside: I am amused at the knowledge that some obscure WW2 pin is going to start selling like crazy, and the folks at Vet Friends are going to be wondering just what the heck is causing such a run on an insignia no one cared about until now.)

I posted this to the Blazing Sword page, and this was met with much oohing and ahhing -- although one person pointed out that the rainbow wasn't quite right. To my rescue came my friend Tiffany Reynolds, who took the .svg file from the Wikipedia article and altered it. Now we have a lovely vector image we can use for all sorts of thing -- I believe a few folks are contemplating making patches out of it!
Tiffany's Version
So to repurpose the symbolism, The flaming sword of freedom from fear cuts the black night of hatred and ignorance, and points the way for people of all color, gender and orientation to find peace and live in harmony.

This is a much better alternative to a safety pin because:
  1. It shows we will teach as well as accept and protect.
  2. It incorporates both our namesake as well as the LGBTQ rainbow symbol.
  3. The heraldry is based upon Good Defeating Evil.
  4. Because it's military, heterosexual volunteers who might feel uncomfortable wearing an "obviously gay" symbol will feel more comfortable with wearing this.
  5. No one's going to laugh at you for wearing a "diaper pin". 
I've ordered one, and I encourage all OBS volunteers to do the same. Note that I said encourage, not require; I understand that some folks don't feel comfortable wearing an insignia they haven't earned, and that's their right. Heck, wear this pin/patch and a safety pin if you want. 

I just think this is awesome, and I look forward to the day when firearms instructors wear this on their shirts as a sign that means "I don't care about your sexuality or your politics; if you want help with self-defense, I will gladly help you."

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