I usually run the Soldier Field 10 Mile race here in Chicago, so I got a promotion for this year's race, boasting of this goodie bag swag:
I think this is dumb—even though it is a Memorial Day race some of whose proceeds go to military-related charities, and even though it does start outside and finish inside Soldier Field. Isn't that enough military stuff?
People who know they cannot fathom the sacrifice of a soldier might feel weird wearing soldier gear with their spandex pants and their silly running stockings …
You wanna wear some camo stuff, wear it all, like these warriors.
Or maybe, like a sensible peace-loving civilian, you simply don't feel like wearing military-themed garb at all—not during a Memorial Day race, or during all the days after that, when you would normally enjoy your handy, sweat-wicking Soldier 10 Mile running shirt. Maybe you don't feel that wearing camo garb is any way to express gratitude to soldiers.
I am not anti-military personally, and in fact I regularly travel with an Army Reserve backpack with my name on it, given to me by the late Lt. Col. Mark Weber, who I helped to write the memoir, Tell My Sons. I feel a little weird doing this sometimes—especially when airport personnel try to usher me through security—but the bag helps me remember Mark, and gives me a chance to tell his story to anyone who asks.
But that's my call, and it's part of my story.
I think these race organizers are being unnecessarily heavy-handed and presumptuous by issuing army-themed uniforms to tens of thousands of civilians, each of whom has a different set of attitudes toward the military.
Can you imagine it happening in any other country?
This American exceptionalism is getting lonelier and lonelier.