Metals, Medals and Mettle… Why I’m Angry About the First, Proud of the Second and Curious About the Third

Teaser Alert – Before the end of this article, you’ll have an opportunity to take a quiz. See if you can recognize nine different U.S. military medals.

It will be fun, and no one but you will know if you miss a few. If you do very well though, I hope you’ll let our readers and me know.

But first, let me tell you why I am upset about the precious metals used to make these military medals.

Actually, what I’m angry about is not the medals themselves, of course, but rather the fact that the U.S. is wasting money. We import so many of them when we should be using what we have.

Why Are We Importing What We Already Own?

The United States possesses about $6.2 trillion in minerals and metals reserves. This is according to a recent article in the Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader – part of the USA Today network.

That’s awesome. And it should mean we can handle nearly all the country’s needs for metals, right?

But get this. In 2015, the U.S. was forced to import approximately $32 billion worth of processed minerals!

Seriously? It’s bad enough that so much of our country’s defense industry projects have been shipped offshore.

But in addition, manufacturers here in the States are having trouble. They can’t gain access to the basic materials they need to handle industrial and high-tech manufacturing projects. That includes metals and minerals required for consumer electronics and steel products.

We’ve Become Dependent on Metals

Last year, more than 50 percent of America’s consumption of 50 non-fuel minerals came from imports. For 20 key minerals, our dependence on imports was 100 percent.

Most of us are probably not even aware of how dependent we’ve become on metals. A great example is a smartphone. It contains a bunch of different metals and minerals. This includes silver, gold, platinum, copper, graphite and tin oxide.

Pretty much everything we own that has an on-off switch contains silver. This metal is a key component in what we need for our national defense. This includes GPS guidance systems, drones and Tomahawk missiles.

That’s all fine. But why are we spending so much money importing materials that we have plenty of right here in the good old USA?

Government Intrusions the Problem Again

Not surprisingly, a lot of it has to do with environmental rules and regulations. Federal and state agencies require permits for mining projects. And miners have to wait seven to ten years for approval of new mining operations.

Seven to ten years! Can you believe it? And it’s not just the EPA standing in the way here. Other countries have similar environmental laws when it comes to mining. But they average only a two or three-year wait. So we can also blame governmental red tape.

The silver lining here is that President Donald Trump recognizes this as a big problem.

He recently announced an executive order about this. It’s designed to strengthen America’s manufacturing sector. As well as the supply chains that keep it running too.

This supply chain starts with metals and minerals. So let’s figure out a more efficient way to use what we have instead of relying on expensive imports.

Military Medals 101 Pop Quiz

OK, enough ranting. Let’s move on to something more fun.

As I’m sure you are aware, hundreds of military medals are awarded to U.S. service men and women. Primarily for their extraordinary courage and accomplishments.

We’re all familiar with the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star and others. But maybe we don’t all know which branch of our Armed Forces awards each of those medals, as well as many others.

Below is a link for a quick quiz (only nine multiple choice questions). Not only will it test your mettle when it comes to U.S. military medals, but you’ll also learn a few things. I’d like to encourage you to take the quiz and see what you learn.

Did You Know…?

Here are some facts you may find interesting:

  • The Purple Heart is an award given to those wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. Military. It was first awarded in 1932.
  • The Bronze Star is an award given to members of the United States Armed Forces. It’s given for heroic achievement or service, and meritorious achievement or service in a combat zone. It was first awarded in 1944.
  • The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award given to a member of the U.S. Army. It’s awarded for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. It was first awarded in 1918.
  • The Legion of Merit is a military award of the U.S. Armed Forces given for extraordinary meritorious conduct. It’s awarded to uniformed service members of the United States. It’s also given to military and political figures of foreign governments. It was first awarded in 1942.
  • The Airman’s Medal is an award given to service members, or those of a friendly nation. While serving in any capacity with the U.S. Air Force, these members distinguished themselves by a heroic act. It was first awarded in 1960.
  • The Navy Cross is the U.S. military’s second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat. It was first awarded in 1919.

Thanks for reading today. I hope you agree that we need to import fewer metals and minerals. As well as speed up the process for mining what we already have. I also hope you found the military medals quiz and information fun and educational.


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