Today, after I completed my workout at the gym, I went to the NEX (the Navy’s version of a PX or BX) to buy some jerky and a Gatorade. I was wearing my cammies at the time, with my rank identifying me as a Marine Captain. Walking through the check-out line, the clerk at the register asked me to produce my military ID to prove that I was a member of the military.
I, of course, produced it. But why the heck does she need to see it? Does she think that I bought my cammies and boots (worth about $140) just so I can buy Gatorade at the NEX? Are my military uniform, military haircut, military appearance, and military bearing insufficient to prove that I’m probably a member of the military, and consequently deserve the privilege to purchase some Gatorade and jerky at a NEX?
I understand the requirements for proper identification in certain places. I understand why the TSA might be interested in my identity when I travel. I understand that if I make a moving violation in my car, the law enforcement officer might want to know who I am. I understand that the Navy’s security guards who monitor traffic entering naval installations have every right to require that I produce identification. I even understand why a register clerk at a NEX would want to verify my identity when I am wearing civvies.
…When I’m required to produce identification for something as insignificant as a Gatorade purchase while in an authorized uniform, it demeans the “Special Trust and Confidence” the President of the United States has in me. It also demeans the value of the title of “Marine” for everyone, from Private to General. Being a Marine is a privilege, and being asked to prove it in order to buy sundries is only worthy of contempt.
Take a random Corporal who served as a Squad Leader in Iraq or Afghanistan (there are countless numbers of them). He has held the lives of his Marines and myriad civilians in his hands. Yet, upon returning home, his personal honor is questioned by being forced to produce identification for a small purchase while uniformed. This is intolerable for multitudes of Marines (and presumably soldiers, sailors, and airmen.)
This practice needs to stop, before we kill the titles that warriors hold dear through inflicting a death of a thousand cuts.