WARNING: This post attempts to make a bit of humor over various religions’ garb requirements
When I joined the US Navy in 1983, sailors were still allowed to wear beards. However, with the military, prompted by the dictates of its Cold War Warrior Commander-in-Chief and President Ronald Reagan, in a fast-paced process of snapping out of its ragtag and drug-laden Vietnam
War Police Conflict low-standards hangover, the navy outlawed full beards in 1984.
After which, many o’ Old Salts requested to Go Ashore permanently, as they would rather quit or retire from service than retire their beards.
I was just a young “Boot Camp” of a wog at the time who could barely grow even a little patch of peach fuzz let alone a full beard, but I still remember how passionate my Senior Chief was about keeping his beard.
And this passion of his and other bearded Old Salts like him was stirred simply over a style choice and tradition, so I can only imagine how one must feel about the importance of keeping one’s beard as a religious requirement, which is exactly the passion three enlisted servicemembers who are of the Sikh religion must be feeling right now as they petition the military for exemptions to be allowed to wear their religion-required beards and turbans.
If I remember correctly, I believe the primary reason the Navy gave for no longer allowing full beards was that they did not allow for the proper donning of gas masks, which created a health and military readiness risk. Another, and probably a more driving reason, was that beards did not allow for the professional military appearance that the Top Brass was striving for.
My position on this has evolved over the years, as it has on many social issues.
Now I’m like, meh… the military makes many exceptions for many situations so why not these?
For example, many servicemembers are allowed to wear beards under a doctor’s order. This is common when, typically a male, is prone to get in-grown hairs from having to shave his face so often.
And as for turbans and other religious requirements…
Now, I’ll admit, all the various grooming and wardrobe requirements that all our various religions place upon us is, in my opinion…
I mean, c’mon. All the goofy hats the Pope wears (hence the sarcastic saying in response to a obvious/stoopid question: Does the Pope wear a goofy hat?) is enough to outfit a circus show, not to mention all the goofy hats all the other religious leaders and religious wannabes insist on wearing.
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Obviously I’m a bit skeptical about any religion that requires one to dress a certain way in order worship its god, so obviously I sympathize with the military and its position of restraint when allowing exemptions for, what I’m sure are way too many, all of the various religions’ various garb requirements and impositions.
Besides, the military, and especially the navy, is doing just fine with all its goofy hat requirements, as is evidenced by the hat that young “Boot Camp” of a wog who can barely grow even a patch of peach fuzz for a beard is wearing in that ancient picture on found on the sidebar…
However, as our nation is, and is quickly becoming much more, diverse, I can foresee it becoming harder and harder for the military to not allow for more and more exemptions in the future.
Besides, doesn’t this Royal Air Force officer look striking and professional in his militarily accommodating military garb?
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?