I have inappropriate thoughts.
At the Twins game Sunday, the boys were wearing caps out on the field for Memorial Day with NAVY, USAF, USMC and ARMY on them. Honoring the services and the men and women who defend us.
I had this thought. What if one of the players wore a hat with “Jane Fonda” on it? Or “Mohammed Ali”? People who stood up for their country by protesting a war they thought was wrong.
People would go apeshit, basically. Some player wears a hat with “Iraq Veterans Against The War,” another with “John Kerry” on it, for his service to the country fighting in and then protesting the Vietnam war, and it would be taken as a controversial inflammatory political statement. Wearing a cap with “Army” on it is not controversial, inflammatory or political. Because it’s status quo. Establishment.
The power of words. Of symbols. Of words we hold up to stand for things that we value. Of words we take as acceptable, and words we deem inappropriate.
I mentioned my notion to my father-in-law, sitting next to me at the game. He nodded, and said, “Maybe you could get away with Jack Murtha’s name on the hat.” Later he thought about putting “Peace” on one of the hats — he wasn’t a hippie but he may be having flashbacks nonetheless.
I mean no disrespect to the armed forces or the people who serve. I’m damned glad we have military forces and I want them well-supported and well-trained. And we should honor them. And when the civilian leaders who direct the military are wrong, I am also damned glad we have people who will stand up and speak out. And we should honor them. Dissent is patriotic. Dissent is American.
But dissenting against the accepted ways of doing things is too often seen as aberrant. Inappropriate.
Words we wear on our hats. They say a lot.
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.” — Thomas Jefferson. A fitting phrase for a hat this Memorial Day.
— Bruce Benidt