An apparent military phony marches in Selma, AL on the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." Photo posted at Military Times Rally Point (registration required)
It was bound to happen.
Take the biggest photo-op of the year, mix in a healthy dose of hubris and opportunism, and voila, you get stolen valor on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
We refer to the photo above, which (ostensibly) shows a retired African-American Lieutenant General, joining the marchers in Selma to commemorate that epic moment in the civil rights movement.
But there's just a little problem, or should we say problems.
The odds this gentlemen is actually a retired flag officer are approximately zero, and there's a pretty good chance he never wore the uniform. That's obvious to anyone who served in the Army (or other branches of the military), who immediately spotted the glaring mistakes with the "general's" dress uniform.
For starters, those are not Army shoulder boards. Secondly, we don't know of any flag officer in the Army who wears rank insignia on his collar (looks more like a grandee from a small-town police department). He's also wearing branch insignia on his lapel, something few generals do, unless they are the chief of that particular branch. His uniform lapels also sport "A.G." (?) insignia instead of the "U.S." that is typically worn. And the aiguillette on his left shoulder doesn't look like anything we're familiar with. It's also worth noting that most generals don't wear an aiguillette and among the lower ranks, most are worn on the right shoulder, except for those serving as attaches, or in aide-de-camp billets. Those aiguillettes are gold, not the mixed-color braid worn by that phony.
If the same guy appeared at the original march, we're guessing he would have been told to leave. There were plenty of World War II and Korea vets who walked across the Pettus Bridge, and they could spot someone with a jacked-up uniform. They understood the significance--and danger--of that day, and there would have been no tolerance for a military imposter who would undermine their efforts.
Six decades later, we're guessing no one said a word. In fact, the fake general probably got VIP treatment from the crowd. That's one of the by-products of a society that is largely detached from the armed forces. Most of the people in Selma (or any other American city) couldn't spot an admiral in the Swiss Navy, let alone someone masquerading as an Army flag officer. And with the courts gutting the federal stolen valor law, there's basically no penalty for anyone that wants to pull off that kind of charade.
And that's a damn shame. Too many Americans--of all colors--have worn that uniform and died in defense of that country. They deserve far better than some phony from a military surplus store who freely trades upon their sacrifice.