Today while I was at the post office a grizzled older Vietnam era clerk was at the desk and he spotted my jacket. “Hey” he says, “How’d you get a serial number on your field jacket?” “Oh this isn’t a real field jacket-it’s just a designer look alike.” I told him. He looked puzzled-“Well I’ll be darned. A designer field jacket. I’ve got three of the real thing hanging up at home.” I hastily tried to explain that I’d gotten this one cheap, and liked it because it looked neat, etc., etc. Made a verbal fool of myself. He was very kind and smiled nicely. I uttered a barely audible “Have a good day.” and left.
I got to thinking about my jacket, and other similar things-like the leather flying jackets you can buy so that you look like a WWII bomber pilot. And I though-what a big fat joke. The problem is-the joke is at the expense of those who wore field jackets, and bomber jackets during times of conflict. During WWII a paratrooper candidate who earned his jump wings also earned the right to blouse his pant legs into the tops of his boots. It wasn’t something a guy with any integrity would do if he didn’t deserve to. So it is with a field jacket. There is no meaning behind the one I have (and how could there be-because it’s not even real.) I imagine when the postal clerk looks at his field jackets there are many memories-authentic memories-good ones and bad ones-associated with his. He may even wear his jackets, but not to look cool I bet. So what he thinks of a “designer” jacket such as mine I can only imagine. (I’m guessing not good thoughts.) But typical with so many who served their country and came home-they keep their thoughts to themselves.
I’m not ever wearing this jacket again. It seems comical and ludicrous now. I’m not sure what I'll do with it. I don’t believe in wasting something perfectly good, but to give it away would be to perpetuate the cycle. I’ll come up with a good alternative use for it. (Now that would be cool.) And I’ll start shopping for a different jacket-one that I truly can be proud to wear.