If there’s one thing that can be said about the human species, it’s that we’re adaptable. War, famine, disaster, disease — through thousands of years of civilization, we have made it to this point; a point where doctors are creating donor organs from 3D printers, and even a global pandemic can’t stop people from meeting in virtual reality spaces.
2020 has shown us, perhaps more than any other year in recent history, how crucial it is to be adaptable. Adapt or die, as the saying goes. But there are drawbacks to our resilience.
The U.S. has been at war in the Middle East for nearly 19 years. That means that some of the soldiers who are being sent to fight are younger than the war itself. And many Americans are so used to this war — so desensitized to it — that they don’t even think about it anymore. American society has completely adapted to the idea of continual war.
As such, it’s important to not only think about the war, but to talk about it. If not to provide alternative solutions, then to honor the troops who spend every day in a war environment that’s not visible from the homefront.
One way to do this is to wear red.
RED Friday was created in a 2005 email chain. Yes, an email chain — remember those? The email urged people to wear the color red on Friday to show support for deployed troops. Red was fitting because it created a powerful and memorable acronym — R.E.D. to Remember Everyone Deployed.
Part of the email read: “If every one of our members shares this with other acquaintances, fellow workers, friends, and neighbors, I guarantee that it will not be long before the USA will be covered in RED — and make our troops know there are many people thinking of their well-being. You will feel better all day Friday when you wear RED!”
However, the message behind the email didn’t catch on as well as intended, and Americans quickly forgot about the trend. But the spark that was ignited didn’t fail completely. In 2006, two Canadian military wives decided to mobilize it. They wanted to spread the word across Canada that people should wear red in solidarity for Canadian troops who were fighting overseas.
Eventually, a service member by the name of Lloyd Hofmeister decided to create a website to publicize RED Friday. “I know what it is like to be half a world away from your life, to feel that no one cares, and to come home to be humiliated and ashamed of your service,” he said.
His efforts helped make the movement popular across America.
The Power of RED Friday
As Hofmeister pointed out, many soldiers feel forgotten by the American citizens. In an era of instant news, people quickly jump from one topic to another, ‘sharing’ and ‘liking’ posts at an expeditious rate. And when you don’t see a war happening, it becomes easy to ignore.
In another vein, many Americans have grown resentful of the seemingly never-ending war. They’ve seen generations of soldiers dead or wounded and billions of dollars spent. Now, they want an end to the violence.
But it’s important to separate the war from the soldiers; even if you don’t agree with the war, you can still respect the people who serve. In fact, service members may not always agree with the war, either. Because of their service, they grapple with issues that aren’t very relatable to the average American, including higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, homelessness, and alcoholism. They are more affected by war than any other group of Americans, which is why they need American support.
The RED Friday movement has already helped countless service members. A nonprofit was even created, which works to support troops before, during, and after their deployments. You can check them out here.
Businesses like Starbucks also participate in RED Friday. In stores around the U.S., baristas — known as “Partners” — don red shirts underneath their green aprons to support military families. This is in addition to all the other things Starbucks does for military families, such as prioritizing the hiring of Veterans and military spouses at select locations.
Also Look At: 10 Military Nonprofits That Support Veterans
Wear Red To Remember Everyone Deployed
If you want to champion RED Friday, here are some of the best places you can buy merchandise:
Of course, you can also just wear whatever red you already have in your closet.
There are many ways to support American troops. But one of the easiest is to simply wear the color red on Friday, and tell your friends and family to do the same. Then, use the power of social media to amplify this message and really make a difference.