Walden’s Words: Costumes versus Uniforms

Ken Walden, UMR Columnist

During the month of October millions of people acknowledge Halloween in unique ways.   This October 31st will most likely not be an exception to that rule, for I have seen a plethora of costumes for persons of all ages for sale in the stores.  As a child, some of my first costumes were of Superman and Batman during the Halloween season.  Every year I looked forward to putting on a costume and being escorted by my parents from house to house to collect candy and other sweets.  There is something special about Halloween candy!  I remember going to grade school dressed in my Halloween costume.  I am still intrigued by costumes, especially how advanced they have become over the years.  However, as a member of the United States Military, I grew to understand the difference between a costume and a uniform.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word costume as “the clothes that are worn by someone (such as an actor) who is trying to look like a different person or thing; the clothes worn by a group of people especially during a particular time in the past.”  Costumes can serve a purpose, but generally the purpose is short-term.  Costumes help persons to enter an imaginary world, one that generally has little responsibilities.  A Halloween costume is generally worn during a defined period and usually for temporary occasions.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word uniform “as not varying or changing; staying the same at all times, in all places, or for all parts or members.”  The purpose of uniforms is generally for long-term wear.  Uniforms are for real life situations that tend to require thoughtful responsibilities and serious consequences.

I am proud to currently wear a United States Military uniform.  The United States of America is blessed to have millions of men and women who wear a military uniform to work each day and have jobs with enormous responsibilities and encounter catastrophic consequences routinely.

Military personnel deserve and are in need of prayerful support from faith communities.  Churches can help support men and women in military uniform by affirming their responsibility of protecting and defending our daily freedoms.  I encourage churches to consider partnering with effective organizations such as “Support The Enlisted Project” (www.stepsocal.org), “Our Military Kids” (www.ourmilitarykids.org), “Armed Services YMCA” (www.asymca.org), and “Homes For Our Troops” (www.hfotusa.org).

During Halloween season, both costumes and uniforms serve a purpose.  I have fond childhood memories of costumes.  Yet, I am especially appreciative of the men and the women who put on military uniforms for more than just one or two days or nights a year.  Our military personnel are in search of things other than tricks or a treats in often terrifying circumstances.  They wear the uniform daily with purpose.  God Bless our Military and the United States of America!

Ken Walden, UMR Columnist

Ken Walden

Ken Walden is an Air Force Chaplain Reservist and United Methodist Clergyperson. He is the author of Challenges Faced by Iraq War Reservists and Their Families.

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