December 4, 2012

The Time I Made A Teenager Cry

It all happened because I went to Walmart. I hate Walmart but we live in the middle-of-nowhere and the middle-of-nowhere for us means one way-over-priced, not-very-good grocery store, a mini-version of a Walmart Supercenter, two gas stations and a handful of fast food joints. Everything else is at least 45 minutes away. So, last night when I needed butter for dinner, I bit the bullet and went to Walmart. 

Wandering the aisles was a teenage couple who looked to be about 17 (apparently Walmart rats are the middle-of-nowhere's version of mall rats). On any other day I may not have even noticed them at all but the boy was wearing something that caught my eye.

He was wearing a crisp, new ACU top.

He was clearly not a soldier and had never been a soldier.

I was immediately annoyed and indignant. In fact, I tweeted about it...

"Seriously people. Military uniforms are not fashion statements. PS> You look like an idiot #hippiedumbass"

As I walked away looking for wrapping paper (because although I had gone just for butter, as usual, I ended up buying five other things too) it dawned on me that he probably didn't understand. So, when I turned the corner and ran into him again, I confronted him. 

First, I asked him where he got it and why he wore it. It came from an Army Surplus Store and he didn't have a reason why he wore it except that he thought it "looked cool." So, we had a discussion (I use that term loosely, it was more of a lecture) about the sweat and blood that soldiers give for that uniform. I told him about the tears of the families and how disrespectful it is to see someone walking around wearing a uniform they didn't earn.

He teared up and she looked a little uncomfortable...I feel bad for calling him out in front of a girl he clearly cares for but I couldn't hold my tongue. I'm tired of white-washed patriotism from a generation that has grown up knowing almost nothing about American exceptionalism and the sacrifices made to achieve it. Hollywood, propelled by the the masses, is quick to use the former service member/PTSD murderer archetype or cart out the strong mil-wife with a gaggle of children hanging onto her for an emotional homecoming with her beloved or more accurately for ratings but when it comes to educating our children about respect and honor, Americans are falling dreadfully short. This generation of children has grown up with the longest war in American history but many of them, and their parents, can't even locate Afghanistan on a map.

It's frustrating to be a military family in a civilian world that claims adoration for the military but knows little to nothing of it.


Jen said...

Good for you! It's about time teenagers learned a lesson.

Jessica said...

I think this may be my first time commenting (I've been a terrible commenter all around for a while), but I just wanted to say, good for you!! It's definitely infuriating to see things like this and I hope if I find myself in the same position that I find the nerve to speak up!

JG said...

Good for you. I'm sure that anytime he sees a uniform he'll remember your words.

Milwife Mama of One said...


Amy said...

It's frustrating to be a military family in a civilian world <<------- The life of being in the National Guard. Not that we have people who wear the uniform a lot, but people just don't understand.

One time, I asked a friend how many military kids (in April for month of military kid) there were in the private school our church supports. I love this person and she's a great. She meant no harm, but she said, "Well, there are 5 but none of their parents are deployed." Like, the only time we are a part of the military is when their soldier is deployed. :(

Glad you said something. Who knows. He might take what you said to heart and eventually earn to wear it!!