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A Letter from the Editor

This issue has proven to be one of the most difficult for me.

Thanks to the most divisive presidential race our country has seen in decades, as well as a heightened alarm over racism and police brutality, the political climate of this year has been, like the global one, one of the warmest on record. As of this past week, we’ve added more fuel to the fire: the already rakish NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided to sit during the National Anthem of a preseason game (an act which, as pointed out by a good friend of mine, is perhaps the most relevant thing he’s done on or off the field for several years). To absolutely no one’s surprise, all hell broke loose on social media.

So this month’s theme, “Military Issued”, lands during a time ripe with divisive fervor around politics and government and violence and polarity. The timing seems off, then, to talk about the military in general terms, and its respective influence on our culture. But the more I thought of it, is there any time it would be easy to take on such a broad socio-political and cultural anchor?

The global anchor that is “Military” is controversial in and of itself. But it is also one of immense power and civic pride. One that is represented by millions of men and women across the world that have given their lives in service to their countries. One that is witnessed in the joy of soldiers’ return home, and also witnessed in the forever-altered state in which those individuals go on to live — or in many unfortunate cases — choose not to live. It is an anchor that is complex and obtuse, and yet, in the most poignant of moments, it is revealing of the truest essence of what it means to be human. Such conflicts in which the military is deployed force one to consider life and death. Love and hate. Good and evil. Dignity and lost humanity. And yet, they also make one consider the small yet culturally powerful artifacts that have gone on to become icons of our heritage: from t-shirts to bomber jackets to the modern-day SUV. Some of these are more or less significant than others. But all of them are relevant to our story.

So what began as an effort to honor the cultural mainstays inspired by the military, from human stories to historical relics, has resulted in something that feels like a thoughtful tribute that is shamefully short in stature and small in scope. The resulting issue is, therefore, a sliver of what can be excised from the “culture” of military life. A small vantage point through which we have seen and heard some very large and remarkable tales. So, while it’s the first exploration of this topic, it likely won’t be the last. There’s much more to be told.

So here’s to beginning, but not yet ending this story. Here’s to tackling the tough topics alongside the easy ones. Trying (and often failing) but, hopefully, learning a bit more about our humanity along the way.

Ian Deming, Editor-in-Chief