IT is thought that the first known occurrence of a medal being awarded was recorded by the 1st century historian Josephus.
Describing it as a ‘golden button’, Josephus recounted that it was presented to Jonathan, a High Priest, by Alexander the Great as a token of thanks for Jonathan’s help in war in the 4th Century BC.
Josephus mentioned in passing that it was customary for kings to award ‘golden buttons’, the size of little coins, for military achievement. Times have changed, and apart from the awesome and glittering display on war veterans’ chests at the annual Cenotaph march-pasts, today’s medals are more associated with sport than war. And it would certainly reduce the razzmatazz at the Olympics if the winning athletes were celebrated on the podium with their National Anthem and a wee ‘gold button’ round their neck! “I read with interest your feature entitled Let’s Medal with Memories,” Pete Cooper emailed recently. Mr Cooper was referring to a medal shown on this page on November 14 that was cast to mark the opening of Parliament Buildings at Stormont in 1932.
It belonged to Limavady reader Christopher Wilson who wondered “if any other little medals of the great day have survived.” They have! “I thought that you might be interested to see that a second commemorative medal does survive,” explained Pete Cooper, enclosing a photograph, “along with two smaller medals depicting the Prince of Wales on one side and the buildings themselves on the other. I also have a copy of the Opening Ceremony Programme,” Pete added. Christopher inherited his medal from his late aunt and uncle, who attended the opening ceremony, and he found it in a cardboard box. Mr Cooper’s medals were “all long-since forgotten and put in the roof space until I saw your feature!” I’m sure there are a few more in various cardboard boxes and attics, and other medals marking all sorts of occasions stored away, and temporarily forgotten. We’d love to hear about them, and their associated memories, via the address at the bottom of the page.