Symbolic displays of in-your-face, militarized masculinity are reaching epidemic status as misguided boots, small pockets of veterans, and the “I almost joined the military, but—” starter pack-wearing fraternity seek to silence any who doubt their ability to go from zero to Rambo in 2.7 seconds.
We get it. You’re the Punisher, an ISIS hunter, a certified Taliban hitman-for-hire, a criminally excessive hair gel-lathering, Oakley sunglasses-wearing Spartan warrior. You talk using only military terminology that no one who has spent even 10 minutes in uniform would ever use because, after all, pain is just weakness leaving the body, and you need to pop smoke from work in time for chow, roger that?
You’re all the things, and you make sure casual bystanders are made excruciatingly aware whenever they breach the Chernobyl-like masculinity radiation zone emanating from your lifted Ford F-350 that was purchased on an E-1 salary with an APR of 72 percent.
“Could anyone even dream of concocting a more superior symphony of machismo?” you ponder, while grabbing Monster number six from your Yeti cooler.
The answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” because, aside from virtually anyone with an ounce of existential security, one gentleman named Mr. Elsey, along with his mother, did just that, an effort confirmed by a World War II artifact located in England’s Imperial War Museums.
Around the time leading up to the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of Normandy, the younger and Mama Elsey were acquainted with British Sub-Lieutenant John Higgins, who was billeted at their house in Portsmouth, England, before he took command of Landing Craft Tank 157.
Higgins’ vessel would soon be tasked with ushering a number of thundering Allied tracks onto the hellish beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
But before the young officer and the rest of the Allied forces made the journey across the English Channel to begin reclaiming Europe from the firm grip of the Third Reich, the Elseys gifted their soon-to-be-former tenant a battle flag, one the family constructed using a discarded black-out curtain.
The infinitely superior flag consisted of the famous skull and crossbones reminiscent of the Jolly Roger flown by one of the wealthiest pirates of all time, Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy.
Also inscribed on the flag are the words, “SHIT OR BUST,” a phrase which is coincidentally the same motto for anyone who has ever experienced the sensation of an MRE meandering its way through the lower intestine.
Shit or Bust flew high in the early morning breeze on June 6, and given the eventual success of the vessel and Operation Overlord, LCT 157′s crew decided to adopt the flag as their own good luck charm, making the slogan the official motto of the vessel.
No matter how macho you believe your $5 eBay “Infidel” rear window decal to be, it will never come close to topping the fortitude needed to fly a hilarious pirate flag — sewn by a landlord and his mom — in the face of sure death.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.