"The 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other."
--General Douglas MacArthur--
The 42nd Infantry (RAINBOW) Division received the name "Rainbow Division" in 1917 during its organization at Camp Mills, Long Island, New York. The Chief of Staff of the Division at that time was Colonel Douglas MacArthur, As they were discussing the organization of the Division and reviewing the National Guard units from 26 states that would make up the Division, Colonel Douglas MacArthur commented that "The 42nd Division stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other." The comment caught the interest of those present and they decided to call it the "Rainbow Division".
After a few weeks of training had past, it was decided to create a patch for the Division, Local seamstresses in Hempstead were contacted and a Rainbow patch was created out of strips of felt on squares of brown wool uniform cloth. The three primary colors of the Rainbow; Red, Gold, and Blue were selected. The soldiers immediately adopted the design. Since there was no method for the government to provide the patches, seamstresses on Long Island and later in France, were kept busy throughout the war sewing Rainbow Patches.
One of the original patches is on display in the World War I section of the historical display at the Division Headquarters, in Troy, New York.
SHOULDER SLEEVE INSIGNIA
DISTINCTIVE UNIT INSIGNIA