Whatever shred of humility the veteran community had left just — to quote Warden Samuel Norton from “Shawshank Redemption” — “up and vanished like a fart in the wind.”
Fifteen-year Marine veteran Patch Baker made sure of it by submitting a petition to the Associated Press to officially amend the style of the word “veteran” so that it be capitalized in every reference.
“Marines earn the title of Marine when they cross the Parade Deck on graduation day,” Baker said, according to a story first reported by KUTV. “Forever after, the title of Marine is capitalized and acknowledged as a proper noun and so should Veteran.”
Baker’s insistence on the distinction, which is currently not recognized according to the AP style guide, was spurred on after he submitted an article to Entrepreneur.com containing each use of the word with a capital V.
The editor, who subscribes to an outlandish set of guidelines some refer to as common sense, performed the necessary task of switching them back to lowercase.
The veteran was not pleased.
“It’s super important to me, and all the people that went before me, that know it’s a big deal when you leave the military,” Baker said in a phone interview with KUTV.
“Veteran is a title and we earned it. The truth of the matter is, whether you served one year or 100 years, you still served your country and that’s a big deal and something deserving of recognition as any other title earned.”
To be clear, this is utterly ridiculous.
Despite dragging on for nearly two decades, the Global War on Terror has yielded a hero-worshipping America that, despite its obliviousness to the wars in which it remains immersed, has doted on veterans at every feasible turn.
Unbelievably generous education benefits, rate-friendly home loans and small business loans, retail discounts, parades, free lifetime passes to national parks, designated parking spaces, free meals, endlessly cringeworthy sporting event recognitions.
The extensive list goes on, but for Baker, it was not long enough.
The term “veteran,” which has already been lionized ad nauseam, was never intended as a holier-than-thou status to rub in the face of those occupying other professions.
Neurosurgeons, teachers, firefighters, police officers, plumbers, janitors, electricians, used car salesmen, baristas, Walmart door greeters — it shouldn’t matter.
None of these occupations are less worthy of our recognition or appreciation as human beings.
Even the deification of Greek “gods” is not considered enough to warrant a capital G. Should we hoist Pfc. Shmuckatelli and his other-than-honorable discharge to a loftier pedestal than Zeus, Apollo, or Ares?
The entire foundation of military service was once synonymous with selflessness. That concept now appears to be but a distant spec in the rear view mirror of today’s self-righteousness locomotive.
Regardless of this petition’s outcome, military Briefs and memos are Already plagued by Random capitalization Of words. It is Practically a national Pastime.
Let’s avoid adding to the wretched practice.