The air was sucked out of the room. It was a promotion luncheon and ceremony for the entire base. The first promotee had crossed the stage and as is the military custom, the commander and First Sergeant balled up their fists and tacked on the new set of stripes. It’s a hit in the arm that is usually done with moderate force and is a long standing tradition.
However, the military has become ridiculously susceptible to political correctness. The female brigadier general stood up and interrupted the promotion ceremony by saying something to the effect of, “We will not be tacking stripes because it is a form of hazing and we will not do this.” We were stunned and limped through the rest of the ceremony with a tremendous awkwardness.
Certainly, she was the commanding general and they get to make the rules. If I recall there had been a recent story of someone in the Air Force that had sustained some injuries as a result of ‘tacking on stripes’. But, that’s one episode involving one person. Unfortunately, the Air Force often overreacts to isolated instances and changes the rules for everyone. I am convinced if someone lost an eye because a ketchup lid came off a bottle of the condiment with force, ketchup bottles would be removed from all Air Force chow halls.
One of the things I have admired about the Marine Corps is they have been largely resistant to political correctness. Unfortunately, the Corps hasn’t been immune to change. Some changes needed to occur. There was a Camp Pendleton mountain we climbed in boot camp that’s true name was a vulgarity. The term was on the sign at the base of the mountain. It made telling the story of that challenge a little harder to share with your mother. The mountain has been renamed, but I imagine the old term still crops up within the ranks.
But, somehow we have to return common sense to the military. The armed forces cannot be compared to civilian life. It is in a sense a fraternity of brothers and sisters in arms that has a unique culture. The general may have stopped tacking stripes for that afternoon and the rest of her tenure at Sheppard. But, she didn’t change the culture of tacking stripes and it continues to this day in the Air Force. But, she certainly did suck the air out of the room that day.