Constable: Could Space Force save us from antiquated military logos?
After tweeting out a dandy slogan of "Space Force all the way!" last week, President Donald Trump turned to campaign donors to vote for one of six proposed logos for the sixth branch of the military he wants to create.
Critics say the old-style puffy rockets on two proposed logos look as if they came from the prop room of TV's "My Favorite Martian," while more modern-looking crafts on three other logo concepts resemble the Space Shuttle. A few say the remaining logo option uses a script and design too close to the one currently used by NASA.
Supporters say that all the Space Force logos are really, really great and super classy, and not one looks as if it were a patch on a toddler's pajamas.
As for an anthem, there already is a Space Force theme song out there, thanks to the 1978 pilot episode of NBC television's "Space Force." The half-hour show starred Fred Willard as Capt. Thomas Woods, who manages "the comic adventures that befall a crew of astronauts assigned to a remote military space station." The tune isn't as catchy as "Off we go into the wild blue yonder" in the Air Force song, but the lyrics are super cool:
"We're the Space Force. An ace force! We will fight to keep the planet free. You can say goodbye to tyranny. We can help you out a lot. We're the Space Force. We're all you've got."
With a U.S. Space Force scheduled to be up and running by 2020, maybe it's time we revisit the symbols of our five established military branches. They all recall the past century, the century before that or even the century before that and don't reflect the modern technology of today's military, which will be on display Saturday and Sunday as the Air Force Thunderbirds, the Army Golden Knights parachute team, and the Navy Leap Frogs parachute team perform as part of the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Tradition can be comforting, but just as we added stars to update the U.S. flag, we could update our old seals. President Dwight D. Eisenhower did that by Executive Order 10736 in 1957 to better reflect the Navy.
The Army emblem is the oldest and most convoluted. First used in 1778 as the seal of the "United States of America War Office," the seal got a makeover when the National Security Act of 1947 changed the title to "Department of the Army" and changed the start date to 1775. But it's a far-busier seal than whatever Space Force will end up with.
In the center of the Army seal is a piece of armor the French called a Roman cuirass. The top of that cuirass is a tightfitting molded piece like the one Batman wears, and the bottom flares out into the pleated skirt worn by Velma in "Scooby Doo."
Protruding from the armor is an unsheathed sword topped by a Phrygian cap, which is a brimless, limp stocking cap originally worn in the 12th century BC by some people in what is now Turkey and often seen today on garden gnomes. A Phrygian cap also is the name of a congenital anomaly of the gallbladder.
On one side of that red stocking cap is a musket with a bayonet, and on the other is an esponton, a French word meaning "pointy stick." Two flags with cords and tassels fly above three cannon balls, two bomb shells, a couple of cannons and a snare drum.
Finally, a rattlesnake holds in its mouth a scroll inscribed "This We'll Defend" even though the snake seems to be eyeing all that old stuff from Europe and asking, "This we'll defend?"
Perhaps tired of people not knowing a cuirass from an esponton, the Army, while keeping its seal for official documents, created a modern logo with a single star in a box above another box with the words U.S. Army for its TV commercials and brochures.
Other branches also have more consumer-friendly logos for everyday use. The Air Force features a sleek and simple star and wings. The Marines stuck with their classic seal with an anchor, globe and an eagle holding a banner in its beak that reads "Semper Fidelis," Latin for "always faithful." The Coast Guard has a pedestrian seal with a red-white-and-blue shield and a couple of anchors.
The first official Navy seal, adopted in 1870, showed a ship under sail with the motto "Sustentans et Sustentatum," Latin for "sustaining and having sustained." Since the 1950s, when Eisenhower signed legislation changing a few military insignia, the Navy seal features a three-masted, square-rigged ship with the commodore's flag "atop the mizzen," a "Luce-type anchor inclined slightly bendwise with the crown resting on the land and, in front of the shank and in back of the dexter fluke." And a rope and an eagle.
You can debate Space Force all you want, but whatever the new logo is, you can bet your cuirass it won't have a mizzen, dexter fluke, Phrygian cap or esponton.