Dog Tags

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

From 1955 to 1975, many immigrants fought in the Vietnam war and in the 1960's my father was drafted. The photo contains my father's Dog Tags and a medal he received for shooting accuracy. These Dog Tags are an interesting heirloom for me because of the content on the Tags. They contain his last name, first name, identification number and religion. Similarly today, many people carry medical bracelets and necklaces, and the most important piece of information is the person's family contact and telephone number. However, with this identifier no contact is listed. If death or injury were to occur, whereas the victim would be non-identifiable, the Dog Tags would assist officers in notifying the next of kin by matching the identification number to a related document with family names, telephone numbers and additional information. The notified next of kin would then be informed and instruct the officers of arrangements. Significantly, the most important information is left to a related document while the line contains "Roman Catholic." I continue to asking myself, why indicate religion on such an important identifier with limited space? And while I come up with reasonable conclusions, I recognize the obvious; these Dog Tags created a sense of community and camaraderie with other Roman Catholic's while also segregating him and distinguishing him from others. These Tags were a clear reminder to my father every day, that he was an Italian immigrant, fighting in an American war. 

Place(s): Italy, New York

– Joe

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant