Red Shirt Friday Returns

ElvisThere is a movement making the rounds again: wearing red on Friday as a sign of support for America’s military. Obviously, it’s a take-off on the colored ribbons and bracelets that have evolved to allow people to proclaim their allegiance to various programs and causes.

[No doubt this idea of using symbols is as old as the first proto-human tribal get-together. One of the things I love about Catholic rubrics is its deeply layered understanding of symbolism as an expression of the sacred, and of things experienced too deeply to be amenable to mere words. It is intriguing to notice that formerly anti-papist churches are beginning to return to using colors and seasons to mark the important turnings in the liturgical year. See Mircea Eliade if you’re interested in delving into the fundamental motivation behind all this symbolism stuff.]

The “Red Shirt Fridays” idea is a new one to me. Admittedly, I don’t get out much, never watch television, have quit listening to the radio since the Baron became unemployed — he’s more interesting — and am generally (though not purposely) as out-of-the-loop as it is possible to be whilst still remaining among the living. Or at least among the breathing. Lord knows, even the books on my bedside table are passé: a random volume of O. Henry’s collected works, an out-of-date anthology of American history, a book on the idea of vocation (I promised Spence Publishing I’d review it in return for a free copy), and another on economics. Plus a few British detective novels and a Land’s End catalogue, all balanced precariously. They sure do make a clatter if they topple over in the middle of the night.

However, just to let any of you other slackers out there know, Red Shirt Fridays is for real even if it’s not very new. Snopes says it started in the US and was picked up by the wives of some Canadians deployed to the current wars in the Middle East.

Here’s an email that was making the rounds in the US in 2005:

You will soon see a lot of people wearing RED on Fridays. Here’s why…..

The Americans who support our troops are the silent majority. We are not “organized” to reflect who we are, or to reflect what our opinions are. Many Americans, like you, would like to start a grassroots movement using the membership of the Special Operations Association, and Special Forces Associations, and all their friends, simply to recognize that Americans support our troops. We need to inform the local VFW’s and American Legion, our local press, local TV, and continue carrying the message to the national levels as we start to get this going. Our idea of showing our solidarity and support for our troops is starting Friday, and continuing on each and every Friday, until this is over, that every RED — blooded American who supports our young men and women, WEAR SOMETHING RED.

Word of mouth, press, TV — let’s see if we can make the United States, on any given Friday, a sea of RED much like a home football game at a university.

If every one of our memberships 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!

Let’s get the word out and lead by example; wear RED on Fridays.

Please forward this to everyone you know!!


The latest, almost verbatim repetition of this email is on the blog, “Find the Good”, and is signed by a staff sergeant.

As Snopes points out,
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The only question is how effective the proposed scheme is for its purpose, and one of the drawbacks to this type of display is that it involves something perhaps a bit too ordinary. Red clothing is not uncommon, so if the participation level is not high enough to create the suggested “sea of RED,” how does one distinguish participants from those who have merely donned red garb by coincidence (or because they’re Nebraska Cornhusker fans)? A better scheme might be to don something one wouldn’t normally wear (such as a badge) or a distinctive color combination, although these methods might also have the shortcoming of being less visible at a distance. And for some people simply wearing red as a demonstration of support may be a source of satisfaction in itself, whether or not others recognize the gesture or do so as well.

Other groups have adopted red shirts as a symbol of their intent and purpose. However, that doesn’t detract from the attractiveness of this idea as the war wears on and those who are concerned about the undermining of our troops deployed in Iraq — and increasingly in Afghanistan — search for a way to undermine the underminers.

Is this hokey? Sure it is. But it’s simple, clever, and a “dignified” way to walk around in those Bastions of Blue Country whose denizens think patriotism itself is hokey, if not downright evil and violent.


Red Shirt Friday is a good response to the mean-spirited machinations of Code Pink.

Take that Cindy Sheehan — put it in your pipe and add it to whatever else you’ve been smoking these last few years.

Don’t you wonder what that woman’s gonna do when the war ends and she finds herself without a cause? Perhaps the “America-is-evil” meme, now that it’s out in the open, can carry her along for awhile. But eventually…eventually she’ll return to the black hole in her heart: the one where Casey used to live.

Wear your red shirt, y’all. A nice way to start the weekend, no?

Go check out you closet now, while you’re thinking about it. Annoy the lefties at the office while proclaiming your innocence – “Huh? Red Friday? Whaa?”

Have fun, live dangerously: aggravate a non-violent liberal. As far as I’ve been able to discern, they don’t seem to think slamming things down on a desk, or accidentally leaving vehement spittle on your glasses as they shriek “Bush sucks” to be in the category of violent gestures. In fact, it appears to pass for civil discourse among those standing on that cliff to the left of us.

7 thoughts on “Red Shirt Friday Returns

  1. As a retired Air Force pilot, and also a Trekkie, I would comment that a red shirt might not be the best symbol. In the original ST, the security detachment wore them. You could be certain that if someone you had never seen before was wearing a red shirt in the first act, he would not likely survive until the second act. That has been memorialized in the phrase “We might as well be wearing red shirts!” used in a dicey situation. I believe that line has been used on one of the Stargate TV shows as well.

    But it is indeed the thought that counts here.

  2. lady aeval–

    Did you click the Snopes link? They specifically say it’s *not* an urban legend and then go on to discuss what makes gestures like this work.

    If you thought I was calling it an urban legend, then I didn’t communicate very well. I’ll have to try again next Friday, I guess. Perhaps I’ll use more excerpts from the Snopes article.

    Snopes exists not merely to call our attention to urban legends, but also to discuss the origins of things that are true.

    Red shirt Friday is among the latter — i.e., it is true, though it may not have caught on in the way its orginators had hoped.

    I like the idea, so I’m promoting it.


    Alan –

    Red as a symbol for various things long predated Star Trek –click the Britannica link for an example.

    And in RC rubrics, it is the color used to symbolize two things: martyrdom and the feast of Pentecost. And, of course, let’s not leave out the bloody hue of Marxism. “Better red than dead” etc.

    What color would you suggest? Blue is out at the moment for political reasons, white symbolizes death in many cultures (besides, it’s too common)…but green might not be bad. A nice olive drab green.

    However, this was started two or more years ago, and those who began it chose red — associations: American flag, blood of the military killed and wounded, righteous martyrdom, etc. Actually, the Canadian military wives who chose it and emphasized Red Shirt Friday (I linked to their page on it) had their own reasons…

    Red seems a good symbolic choice to me. But then I don’t watch TV, as I said. The only series I’ve seen on DVD is “Firefly.” I don’t think they had one gorram color to represent anything…no wait, I take that back — they had the evil blue gloves and those drab grey Federation uniforms.

  3. Heh. Taking the best, leaving the rest, Trek has it right. I’ll wear red, knowing that I may be called upon to sacrifice myself for the good of the crew. Or because the captain made a mistake. Or because I just happen to be in security and the rest of the landing party are main characters.

    Ours is not to question why. Set phasers on stun and beam down into the middle of the battlefield.

    BTW, it sure beats “hawaiian shirt day.” -cp

  4. When in 1801 lord Horatio Nelson navigated his fleet past Kronborg and saw the Danish fleet, he called his yeoman and ordered :
    “Bring me my red shirt and my brown trousers”.

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