On the evening of 10 September a business trip found me in Atlanta Airport. With a long wait for my flight, I had ample opportunity to watch passengers come and go. I first spotted a young sailor fresh out of basic. The Navy enlisted uniform has never been my cup of tea, but he looked really squared away in his crisp, clean whites. I then saw an airman. Typically, his Air Force trousers were about two inches too short, but otherwise he looked good too. I thought, “another fine representative of our military.”
Some time later, I noticed two Marine privates, obviously fresh out of boot camp, most likely on their first leave home. I went over to them and exchanged a brief handshake and “Semper Fi,” and then left them on their way. Still later, I spotted an Army E-3. High and tight, clean well-pressed uniform and solid bearing. Quite a credit to his service.
I was reflecting on times when we all wore our uniforms everywhere and airport terminals looked like the local USO. As I was thinking how unusual it was anymore to see a representative from four major services in uniform at one time, I then spotted the two young privates again. This time they had their green blouses draped over their arms, and one had his tie loosened and his collar undone! And walking around Atlanta Airport in this fashion. I started to go over and say something, but I was with a business group and I didn’t think an airport terminal scene would have been well received on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary. I could only hope that this character pulls this again and some active duty NCO or SNCO spots him and jumps all over him.
It was very disappointing to me that on the eve of one of the biggest tragedies in American history and when patriotic fervor, for however fleeting for some, was again in high pitch, that the one military member who discredited his uniform had to be the Marine. To this nameless recruit (which I believe his still is), I would remind him of the intense pride he should feel in wearing the uniform which bears the eagle, globe and anchor; and remind him of the shame he should feel in the callous way he wore it. I could only imagine what his Drill Instructors, whose care he probably left only hours before, would have thought!
Regards and Semper Fi,
SSgt. USMC 1971-1978