As many readers may have seen, Urban Outfitters recently decided to sell a blue denim vest with a 3rd Ranger Battalion scroll on the upper left breast. At first I was very infuriated and then I realized, thanks to the writing a very hard work of our very own Kerry Patton, they have removed the item from their website. Although I haven’t taken the time to stroll down to my local Urban Outfitters, I am curious if the product is still on their racks in store.
After sitting with my thoughts (not much time passes by) I realized that this problem has stemmed from somewhere or someone, that it is okay to flaunt around something that you didn’t earn. I want to place the blame on the civilian, but I think it’s our fault–as in the men who have served.
Let me take a minute of your time to explain myself before I get berated by my friends and brothers.
Imagine you are having a conversation at a social event with someone that you just met. You are going through the usual pleasantries of “Hi, how are you? Enjoying your day?” and it slowly moves into the phase of when they ask you what you do or used to do for a living. Most of the time I just say that I was in the military and leave our the specifics, but many times they will ask what branch and unit. I say “I was in 3rd Ranger Battalion.”
And here it is:
They say, “Oh, my third cousin’s best friend from junior high band camp is a Ranger in the 82nd Airborne.” Maybe not that extravagant, but you get the point.
The inside of my head feels like someone just shoved a one-pound thermobaric charge up my nostril and I bite my lip because I don’t know this person and they probably don’t know any better. What do I say? “Cool man,” as I slowly bob my head up and down trying to end or move the conversation in a new direction.
What should I have done? In retrospect, I should have set them straight. I don’t mean telling the person that their cousins friend is a worthless non-Ranger knuckle-dragging turd. No, I should politely, while instilling some pride and a slight amount of fear, tell him that his cousin’s friend isn’t a Ranger, he is Ranger-qualified. No disrespect to the 82nd Airborne, but having a tab doesn’t mean shit.
If I took a few minutes to explain the history and what it really meant to serve with the greatest men I have ever seen, then he may be able to set the record straight the next time he hears someone speaking like Rangers are something bought out of a vending machine. The respect of the 75th Ranger Regiment has been diluted over the years by this way of thinking, and frankly “dime a dozen butter bars” bragging to their families that they are a badass Ranger in 2nd ID stationed in Korea.
Oh really, I didn’t know Regiment had a Battalion in Korea. Huh, guess I am behind the times.
I can’t change Ranger School graduates bragging to their families, but when I run into someone that claims they are a Ranger or knows someone who is a Ranger, I and anyone who has served in the 75th better let them know the truth.
People buy items like the vest above because they think it will make them look coo,l and that it isn’t really that big of a deal. But if I ever see someone wearing something that dishonors the Regiment and the men who have served–prepare for violence.
As you can see, this subject irritates me just a little.
INSTILL THE FEAR!