Boots on the Ground

So, I had a great day yesterday.  I had enjoyed a lesson in Chi Gong and meditation and was off exploring an eclectic, artistic town.  As I sat down to have a meal at a local establishment I noticed something odd.  It was a plumbing company.

They had apparently been hired by the city and were working on some sewer mains.  What really caught my eye, though, was the uniform shirts the workers were wearing.  They had sewn patches on the shoulders of the American flag and the state flag.

It was clear this was an after thought and was not something they had the uniform company do professionally because the patches were irregularly spaced and not in alignment in height from the top of the shoulders.  Each shirt was just a bit different.

I also noticed that there were apparent ranks depending on the level of skill of the plumbers.  The assistants didn’t quite have all of the accouterments on their shirts as the lead plumber or boss did, although they all had their names in nice little ovals trimmed in red embroidery like car mechanics.

Now I think it’s fine that this company wanted to display their patriotism, even if it might have been sort of a pandering type of advertisement.  That’s ok.  That’s the way it’s done in America sometimes.  But it struck me as odd because these guys were plumbers.  After all, they were not US military or even civilian police and this was a mirror of militaristic uniforms.

It reminded me of the time when Desert Storm was underway.  That war was primarily won from the air but it still required foot soldiers to mop things up.  And the common expression for when ground troops are sent in is referred to as putting “boots on the ground.”

Now I come from a family that has had four generations serve in all branches of the military, and I am very proud of our military and its traditions.  What got on my nerves at the time was the press adopted this phrase to apply to themselves.  “Being on the ground” was used to talk about their reporters being present.  And soon the phrase was bastardized further and applied to all sorts of things.  “Being on the ground” simply meant you were there – it just sounded more dramatic.

I guess I was “on the ground” when I went to work at the court each day.

And I have to admit, I started making fun of the press in this regard.  Like where else would their reporters be?  In the air?  Walking on water?  Perhaps dancing on the flames of a fire?  I mean come on.  Reporters can be brave and be in extreme situations, but I don’t equate them with being in battle and engaging the enemy.  Regardless if they wear boots or shoes.

The phrase was rapidly overused, diluted, and I thought even being used in a manner offensive to our troops.

So here I am witnessing the militarization of plumber’s uniforms.  Really?  Red, White, and Blue.  Boots on the sewer 😊

Please don’t take my sarcasm too seriously.  I don’t even take myself very seriously 😊


And BTW, I am appreciative of what these guys do.  We would miss plumbers really quickly if they weren’t around to fix these problems . . .

Feature Photo: I found this photo on the Internet in the public domain.  It tracked back to a web publication called “Accuracy in Media,” and specifically to an article titled: “After this decision by the U.S. Army, NO ONE should enlist.”  A little touch of irony, having just talked about the media’s portrayal of BOTG 🙂

4 thoughts on “Boots on the Ground”

  1. Interesting post. Would be even more interesting to explore how those “uniforms” came to be. We didn’t need a uniform plumber to fix the kitchen sink drain pipe at your house. Larry came and fixed it less than 10 minutes. He has a cracked vertebrae L-4, and I sure hope he can get that fixed and we don’t lose him as a handy-man. Selfish thinking, but I don’t know what we would do without him. I also really do want his back taken care of for his pain also. You will have to tell us all about your day yesterday including the “military plumbing service”. Ignorance or trying too hard? As I recall the expression “boots on the ground” also became political. Like sending planes over was much safer than having “boots on the ground”. More fatalities that way.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Betty! It is interesting. It is also interesting just how many occupations have uniforms. Even the Boy & Girl Scouts have been criticized as being “para-military” groups – part of social indoctrination 🙂


  2. Before I retired I noticed a new trend in nursing “uniforms” (scrubs) as well. More and more hospitals, SNFs, and other facilities were requiring their patient care personnel to conform to requirements. For instance, in one SNF where I worked the RNs and LPNs wore royal blue uniforms (that made us look like clowns). Dietary personnel had maroon, CNAs light blue. We had to buy them from some company the SNF had contracted with. Since then I’ve noticed that hospitals and so on do the same thing; even the hospice where I volunteer. Not as militaristic as your plumbers, but still weird as though individuality must be stamped out.

    Liked by 1 person

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