Could you believe it?

Is this what we’re doing now? High school girls twirling rifles?

Did anybody notice? Does anybody care?

I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. It was the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I’ve watched it on television every year since I was a child. It’s been kind of a Thanksgiving morning tradition. All the floats. The appearance of celebrities. The marching bands from high schools all over America, with their drum majorettes fastastically tossing and twirling, and miraculously catching, batons.

Only this time they weren’t batons. They were facsimile rifles.

That’s right, rifles.

What is that about???, I asked myself when I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Not just one high school marching band, but several, with their teenage drum majorettes marching along with them in flashy outfits. Let me offer you the definition of “drum majorette” found in most dictionaries:

“drum majorette — noun: the female leader of a marching band. * a girl or woman who twirls a baton, typically with a marching band or drum corps.”

Well, in America as of Thanksgiving 2017 (and perhaps before…I hadn’t noticed until now), we have to change that definition to “a girl or woman who twirls a facsimile rifle, typically looking like a military weapon, with a marching band or drum corps.”

Did you see it with me? Did your jaw drop with mine? The high school majorettes were twirling white objects, but not batons. Apparently made of wood or plastic (or who knows what), these items were cut in the exact shape of a military rifle, with its stock, trigger housing, magazine, barrel and sight.

I couldn’t believe it.

What are the children watching this parade—on 34th Street in New York and on TV at home—supposed to think? Is this the imagery we want to embed? What is the message we are sending?

For that matter, what is the energy and imagery that the teenagers in those marching bands and majorette units are absorbing? Are we actually proud that facsimile weapons have replaced shiny, sparkly batons as the item of choice that we’re having our teenagers twirl — just like the real-life military marching units also in the parade, members of which were twirling actual rifles with bayonets?

Have we gone far enough to glorify weapons, to glorify the military, to glorify killing and war? High school drum majorettes twirling rifles?

My God, what have we come to? As a society, what have we come to?

Am I the only one whose heart sank seeing teenage drum majorettes smilingly and flashingly twirling facsimile weapons?

Am I just getting too old? Am I so far out of step with where we as a society now are…and want to be?

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