Lapel pin “Applicant for Enlistment” 1941

on the back a number and the warning not to wear thiis illigaly


That button is called the “Applicant for Enlistment” pin, and it comes in both French and English. Per Veteran Affairs Canada, Canada specifically created the pin to shield rejected applicants from the shame of not serving. The pin was made available to

Persons who have voluntarily declared their unqualified willingness to serve in and beyond Canada in the Military Forces of Canada, and who are refused enlistment by reason of their not possessing, due to no faults of their own, the necessary qualifications then required for enlistment in the Naval, Army and Air Forces of Canada.

Eligible people could pin it to their lapels in the hopes that the button would shield them from being called a coward — owning the medal meant you tried to serve but couldn’t, and were in no way a coward. (Well, at least not when it came to the war.) And if you didn’t earn the medal and were caught with it? That came with a $500 fine (in Candian dollars), which, accounting for inflation, is close to $8,000 today.

Whether the button successfully delivered on its mission, though, is murky at best. Canada didn’t start issuing in the badge until the fall of 1941, and while the button was issued retroactively to the war’s start, some were surely harangued during that two-year interval.

Lapel badge Participent for Enlistment CANADA

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