Monday, September 29, 2008

Now, even mall-rat tweeners can sport that combat veteran look.

This is the patch for the First Infantry Division, famously called The Big Red One. It's an iconic patch, one that veterans wear with pride.

And it's just been sold to Sears.

According to Stars and Stripes:

The Army licensed the 1st ID insignia to All American Apparel in June 2007, according to Army spokesman Paul Boyce. Under the licensing agreement, the Army will receive royalties on any profits beginning in 2009.

Civilians have worn military insignia as fashion for decades. often with an eye for irony. Even I wore my old field jacket for many winters and it still sports my unit patch on the shoulder.

But that's because it was my unit. My uncle was in the Fifth Marine Division, but I wouldn't wear the eagle, globe and anchor on my lapel. My nephew was in the 101st, but I wouldn't feel right sewing a Screaming Eagle to my shirt.

I won't even get into the whole militaristic bent to our society, with people supporting the troops in every way they can except, you know, enlisting, or paying for the war, or anything that requires more sacrifice than slapping a magnet onto the back of the SUV.

And now, all those Cheeto-stained keyboard warriors of the right wing can wear the Big Red One on their Sears cammies. All it takes is mom's credit card.

I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable selling a unit patch to a clothing line. From the Stars and Stripes piece:

Joe Argenzio lied about his age and joined the Army as a 16-year-old during World War II. He soon found himself with the 1st ID just in time for D-Day. On June 6, 1944, he was among the first Allied troops to hit the French coast.

The division, its history and its patch all mean "an awful lot," he said ... "I don’t like it to be commercialized," he said. "My father would turn over in his grave."

Some active-duty soldiers also disagree with the patch’s commercial use.

"Unless someone’s related somehow [to a unit], they shouldn’t wear it," said Pvt. Chris Latona, 19, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s Special Troops Battalion out of Bamberg, Germany. "It’s not like a sports team."

So what do you think? Do you find this news just a little creepy and disrespectful? Or am I just feeling crankier than usual on a Monday?

Talk to me.


norby said...

No, there's definitely something wrong with that. You have to wonder about the Army's thinking on this one. What are they hoping to accomplish by selling the licensing rights to one of their unit patchs?

Besides of course the income...

John McFetridge said...

I wonder what would have happened if they'd asked veterans first?

Phoebe Fay said...

It is decidedly creepy and feels wrong.

And it makes me wonder... is the military's financial position so tenuous they're turning to this to pay for bullets?