It’s that time of year again, when adults and children alike embrace their alternate personas and head off into the night in search of sugary tricks and treats. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. It might be related to the fact that my birthday is also in October, but I’ve also just always enjoyed the macabre nature of it. I love horror films, zombies and ghosts; but I also just enjoy seeing people break out of their regular character and pretend to be something they’re not.
As a somewhat ubiquitous and prolific military Facebook page administrator, I often come across the whole “stolen valor” thing from concerned and (sometimes) obsessed readers. Like many Marines that served abroad, I too feel a rage burning inside of me every time I see someone like Master Funnery Sergeant here:
There’s something incomprehensibly dubious about pretending to be a war hero in a time of war. Those of us that are part of that minute population of Americans who experienced it take it personally every time. Rightly so! However, there is a line. Believe it or not, I’m often sent pictures of kids or people obviously not in the military–on Halloween no less–with the expectation that I will “put them on blast.”
The whole Stolen Valor witch-hunt thing isn’t really something I do anyway, but many veterans simply take it too far. I remember when I was a kid, there was nothing wrong with dressing up as a soldier or a Marine–it was done out of admiration–as mimicry surely is the sincerest form of flattery. It was fun, it was just what kids did. Of course, this was the 90’s, and the nation wasn’t locked down in war for upwards of ten years. Still, it’s hard not to look at even people like our beloved Master Funnery Sergeant here and think of him as just a giant child.
He tells stories of war and pretends to be something he is not; he is stuck not on the battlefield, but the playground. He is nothing more than a kid on Halloween night, replacing his Reece’s Pieces and Almond Joy’s with medals and ribbons. He is a fraud, but he is also just a sad, sad man.
Me? I stole some valor myself and dressed as someone that outranks me entirely.
I dressed as a Captain and his trusty shield.