Saturday, May 16, 2015

Deferring to My Father

"The shirt, labeled on Under Armour's website as "Band of Ballers," bears a strong similarity to the U.S. Marine Corp War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The statue, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, features a group of soldiers planting a flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima (1945), which resulted in 26,000 American casualties." Underarmour Stops Selling Shirt Bearing Similarity to Statue,  Darren Rovell, ESPN Business reporter, May 16, 2015

What the...?

I am agnostic about this t-shirt. I did not serve as a Marine. All of my military experience was in the US Naval Reserve, mostly locked in a safe reading stuff and practicing creating classified briefings out of it. So, if an honest-to-God Marine is offended by this shirt, I will never tell them they are wrong. I'm not going to go all Rage Boy about it, either.

Here is my issue, on this glorious Armed Forces Day. The main objection this writer can imagine is the t-shirt's similarity to a statue? Does he have any fucking idea what that statue represents? (Yes, Graham, Papa wrote f-word).

Years ago my father spoke about his first day on Iwo Jima, now 70 years in the past. They could not get over a seawall because the Japanese soldiers would shoot them. So they stayed on the beach for most of the day. An enemy shell, fired from Mt. Surbachi, would land among them. "A couple of kids would get killed," Dad said. That went on for hours, until they got off the beach after dark.

The flag raised on the summit several days later meant that the rain of terror was close to an end, that the enemy inside the hollowed mountain were being silenced. It was one of the iconic moments in the history of a fighting force organized in Tun Tavern in 1776.

The statue represents a moment in American history where a group of Marines planted a flag to let their brothers know they had fought their way to high ground. It represents sacrifice in the face of a determined, bitter enemy. It represents Marines who have served proudly in all of the wars America has fought to preserve our freedom.

I expect that, were my father still alive, he would remind people that it was only a t-shirt. They should remember the "kids" who died this week in a helicopter crash in Nepal, a long way from home.

But, who am I?

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