GORGET [GAWR-jit]: an ornamental necklace or breastplate presented to signify a high honor


Tuesday was a historic day in the life of the State of Rhode Island.   It was the Inauguration of the 75th Governor of the State, and the first woman to hold that post.  Amid much traditional fanfare, Governor Raimondo was sworn into office, after which a historic silver gorget was hung around her neck by the outgoing Governor, Lincoln Chafee.  In the middle of the decorative piece was the symbol of Hope, the official symbol of the State of Rhode Island.

A gorget is a representation of an ancient piece of clothing worn in warfare by knights and members of the military in various European countries.  It was also a decorative item worn by military leaders in American Indian nations and tribes.

The term gorget comes into the American English language through Old French, where the term is a variation on the word gorge, meaning throat.  The purpose of the gorget was to protect the neck of a warrior in battle.  Even in today’s armies, there is a fabrication of a gorget which is worn as a part of a bullet-resistant vest.

But in political circles, the gorget is presented to someone achieving high office.   It might be a President of a University, or…in yesterday’s case…a person elected to high office, such as Governor.

I don’t expect we’ll be seeing a lot of the gorget presented to Gina Raimondo.  Perhaps the next time will be at her installation for a second term.   She is not one given to great ceremony or fancy attire.   One of the endearing qualities of Governor Raimndo is that she is “of the people.”   She does everything she can to remind her constituents of that fact.   While she can dress really fashionably for formal occasions, she is more likely to be seen in business attire or casual attire.   Gorgets are not commonly worn at those times.

(I would suggest to her husband, Andy Moffit, that he consider a birthday gift for the Governor of a discreet silver necklace with the state seal in the middle of it.)


Image Credit: Indiantradesilver.com

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