Pictured above: FORD, EDWARD R., I.D. TAG/Harris & Ewing, photographer/Published: between 1913 and 1918/LOC
VAV!/April 9, 2014/Contributed by Data Reporter - Data Bob
American military personal identity tags, more commonly known as "Dog Tags," are not solely an identification tool for Soldiers serving in combat; they also signify a duty to one's country, a commitment to a higher cause, and a resolve to each other during peace and war. The dog tag brings solace to its wearer and eases fear in the face of death... ensuring that in their last measure of full devotion, they will not be forgotten and will not be unknown.
The first story of the original, yet unofficial identification tags in America's history goes back to the Civil War (1861-1865), as soldiers going into combat created their own rudimentary identification by pinning pieces of paper with their given name and home address to the their backs, as well as stenciling identification on their knapsacks or etching their personal information into the back of their Army belt buckle.
During the Spanish-American War, US. Chaplain Charles E. Pierce believed the identify of war dead should be practiced on a more scientific basis. The Chaplain suggested a central collection agency where mortuary records would be gathered and the addition of an "Identity Disk" in every Soldier's combat field kit. The addition of an"Identity Disk," in 1899, is considered as the first institutionalized identification tag.
The Navy formally utilized "dog tags" during World War I when the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, directed their use in General Order No. 294 of 12 May 1917.