Heirloom china

So there’s a meme going around (as memes will do), poking fun at Mitt Romney’s new campaign button.  It apparently reads “Believe in America” on its face, and has “MADE IN CHINA” stamped into the back.

Image shamelessly stolen from Daily Kos

I have no idea whether this is true.  So many scurrilous things are mumbled about national candidates these days.  Allegations have been made that Mr. Romney was the first Games director ever to order the U.S. Olympic teams’ uniforms from that venerable Middle Kingdom; that he believes more in the Cayman Islands when it comes to stashing loot; and that his wife shares her genetic coding with a Roomba (that last one, incidentally, is NOT true: only their face plates are shared technology).  None of these speculations interest me, but they brought to mind something I saw while vacationing last month.

On a “Great American Road Trip” journey that took us through nine (9!) western states, we visited more National Parks than I’d had the privilege to enjoy in 48 previous years of life.  Personally, I love National Parks.  A no longer uniquely — but still originally — American concept, they combine a pre-Robber Baron, pioneer sensibility with proud, citizen-driven egalitarianism.  They’re also a great place to show your kids a few big bull elk, bison and possibly even a black bear.

Poking through the gift shop at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, I came across a funny little hat.  Boldly emblazoned across the front with “JUNIOR RANGER,” it was a brimmed hat of olive drab cotton, rendered on the pattern of a military “boonie cover,” complete with cartridge loops around the crown.

Color me bemused.

Although we had boonie covers issued for FOB wear when I deployed to Iraq, they were never my favorite headgear.  Too floppy by half, mine always seemed to fall into my eyes.  Besides, it took two hands to get the damned thing on, which is inconvenient when you also had a rifle and magazine to deal with 24/7, and it was too big to stuff quickly into my cargo pocket.  Like most soldiers at FOB Sykes, I just wore the regular DCU cap, more or less a baseball cap in the style to which Fidel Castro had become accustomed, only less stiff and in desert camo colours.

The boonie cover wasn’t really from our era, anyway.  The guys who wore them most were Vietnam jungle soldiers, the guys you see now in National Parks not with their kids, but with their grandkids.  I was momentarily transported by the vision of one of those guys picking up such a little hat and imagining its hatband loops filled not with shotgun shells or cigar tubes, but with gold-toned park charms and Hello Kitty pencils.  Count on the National Parks to slip in a little unexpected American heritage, right?

Feeling how soft it was, I turned the little hat over to check its fiber content (I’m a cotton guy, myself).  Turned out it was a 67% polyester, 33% cotton blend, proudly crafted for big American tourists in the worker’s paradise of… Vietnam.

Not a bad looking hat, though.  Might be just the right prop for a candidate’s stump speech, maybe delivered in front of Old Faithful. As they say in Yellowstone these days, “Let it burn.”

Let it burn.

Git some!

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  1. My father was a motorman on a PT boat. He drives a Mazda. He has said, “I don’t trust the Japanese, I can never see what they’re thinking. We picked up a japanese sailor who stole a pistol and shot two sailors before we killed him. They make a good car.”

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