Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fruit Salad, Anyone?

I'm not sure why this bothers me, but it really does ...

I recently saw photos of the new president of a national organization at a convention taking the reins of his new position. The pretty photos of him and his wife showed him in a black tuxedo, with 3 full rows of decorations on his left breast. This seemed kind of odd to me ... former militarty folks usually wear their decorations on retirement versions of their uniforms, not on civilian attire. I looked closer at the rows of medals, and found that I could not identify a single one. I don't know them all, but I am familiar enough with the military to know what they should be - at least those on the top row.

As I looked through the magazine that had his infomation in it, I noticed photos of other, lesser in stature members of this organization, sporting various levels of these medals on their civilian suits. There were also a few ex-military members in the photos - their military decorations were easily identifiable.

Curious, I emailed this new president. To his credit, he emailed back very quickly. He stated that he had served in the military for a number of years, was proud of his service, but the decorations he wore in the photos and to all public events were from the organization itself.


So, this prestigious organization makes up its own medals and decorations for its members, who walk around displaying them in military fashion. There are very impressive looking awards for years of membership - local, state, and national leadership positions - community service - even very sharp looking ones that merely denote one's membership in a state chapter of the organization. Said president has three rows, with what looks like a total of 25 different medals (it's hard to tell exactly, there are so many of them).

I'm sorry, but I think this is an insult to the members of our military.

Knowing what this organization is and what it stands for, I really don't believe they intend any slight against members of our military. Quite the opposite. However, I don't care. It is insulting to those who have and are serving, folks who have earned their decorations and awards defending our country while in uniform.

I recently attended the retirement ceremony of good friend Outlaw13. The decorations on his chest, including the Legion of Merit awarded to him at that ceremony, are recognition of his outstanding service to his country in the US Army over a quarter of a century. The six other military members honored at that retirement had their own sets of 'fruit salad', telling the tales of their travels and service - and in some cases, heroism.

Having seen that ceremony, and then seeing these photos of civilians waltzing around self decorated with a bunch of stuff they bought out of the organization's catalog was, honestly, upsetting. I don't find it as revolting as cases of stolen valor, where someone intentionally tries to profit in some form from misrepresenting their military service (or lack of) by wearing actual military decorations they are not entitled to, but upsetting nonetheless.

The photo is of the Legion of Merit, as awarded to Outlaw13 on August 26 - a real award recognizing years of outstanding and exceptional service to the US Army and our country.

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