The American military is hardly an institution known for personal style. Why, the whole point of boot camp is to break you like a wild horse, to get you to shave that mane and tail of yours, and to turn you into a good ol’ ‘Merican soldier. For decades (centuries, perhaps) your average soldier hasn’t been able to put much of an individual stamp on anything but his Zippo. But thanks to a new ruling, that’s all changing. You’re about to see beards, yarmulkes, pink cell phones, and even… no, really, not making this up … casual Fridays.
Is the Pentagon about to turn the military into Park Slope?
NBC News obtained a memo currently circulating around the Pentagon that states that the US military is starting to accommodate “individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs” in their dress code. As the report puts it, this includes “conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of service members.”
The somewhat progressive update is largely meant to accommodate religious garb (think prayer beads and Sikh beards), meaning that the approximately 3,700 Muslims currently in the US Military won’t have to acquiesce when it comes to their religion or the Army’s dress code. The update applies to just about everyone, though, meaning the 1,500 people who identify as Wiccans currently in the US Army (really) are going to be a-OK when it comes to wearing… whatever it is that Wiccans wear. As long as it’s a religious item and doesn’t interfere with the function of the protective clothing (helmets, armor, etc), the Pentagon will allow it.
And then there’s the matter of “Casual Friday” in the military. This does not mean that our soldiers are going to be wearing sweatpants and an oversized Big Dog T-shirt on the front line. What it does mean, however, is that you can now wear black socks, morale boosting t-shirts, and whatever color athletic shoes you damn well please.
If you ask me (which you didn’t), I’d say that the new update is pretty cool—and may just make that much of a difference to those men and women fighting for us, giving them just that much more individuality. It’s a stressful job, that military, and I say that if you’re willing to die for your country you should be at least allowed to wear whatever color shoes you want in the process. It’s the small battles that win the war, folks. Here’s to our soldiers and their individuality.