Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pretend soldiers

I get a lot of things military in the mail. In a military magazine that was sent me recently I saw an ad for "Custom Engraved Dog Tags." The ad also offered stainless or anodized aluminum military license plates. A catalog from Medals of America boasts, "Your Catalog for All U.S. Military Awards." Gee, I thought dog tags and medals earned were only issued by the branches of our military. But it seems anyone can purchase these things, and as the military awards catalog says, "W Haan: You are Pre-Approved for a Medals of America 3 months to pay. See page 31 to learn more." I turned to page 31 and noticed that anyone can buy any medal he wants, whether earned or not.

In my own case, though I made Sergeant E-5 in less than two years in the US Army, 1965-66, I don't remember receiving any medals. But the catalog says I can award myself any medal I want. I didn't do anything really extraordinary to earn any. I was a terrible shot with my M-14 so no sharpshooter medal for me. I was commended for choking and strangling enemy soldiers however, which was useful because I obviously couldn't stop them with my rifle while they were charging me. I don't believe the US Army issues a choking and strangling medal. But maybe the catalog does?

Should just anybody be allowed to buy military medals without documentation showing they earned the medals? Should anybody be allowed to buy military type dog tags whether they were in the military or not? I still have my original dog tags and am proud of how I earned them. I served. Should just anyone be allowed to buy a stainless steel license plate for his car or truck that indicates the occupant was a soldier? Did anyone check for the buyer's Department of Defense records first? There are a lot of people out there that buy this stuff so they can pretend they were soldiers or are veterans.

We've always had a wonderful military because of the men and women that were and are members of it. Do soldiers and veterans really want to see what they earned hawked in the marketplace for any jerk to buy? This veteran doesn't like it.

A note about my post from last week that mentioned book store sales lagging. Not only that, but US publishers are publishing fewer books. The last statistic I saw indicated that we (all US book publishers, big and small) published 190,078 books in 2004 and 172,000 books in 2005. That's a decrease of almost 10%. Southfarm Press (www.war-books.com) published two books in 2004 and one in 2005. However, we published seven titles in 2006 and will publish a total of five in 2007.--Walter Haan, www.war-books.com


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