Military Keep Mum on Birthdays

 I know little about military culture, so I was interested to read recently a We Are the Mighty blog offering several reasons troops don’t tell others its their birthday. The reasons definitely reinforce my idea that being part of a military unit can be a lot like having several unruly siblings.

The first reason to avoid sharing your special day? “Your gift is embarrassment.” U.S. Army veteran Eric Milzarski, who was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division as a radio operator, tells us that the company might sing to you but only with the intention of making you feel awkward and embarrassed.

Second, the surprise party in the training room is highly unlikely. Instead military personnel will be expected to do push-ups for every year they’ve lived.

While, this might ruin many civilians for the rest of their birthdays, the veteran author tells us “It’s in good fun though and they’re almost always done with a grin.” Even when extras are added on: “One more for the unit! One more for the First Sergeant!”

Ultimately, things need to keep on keeping on. So amidst the pranks and awkwardness, the attitude is primarily: “Cool. You’re older. Now get back to work.”

Birthday Surprise for Military Son

birthday surprise

Image source

I’m a fan of creative gift-giving. My friends did a scavenger hunt for me to find my present in college, and I loved it. I have aunts who sent the same plastic figure back and forth to each other embedded in other gifts. I’ve done the big box of empty to faux disappoint a child. Plus, a lump of coal for my husband one Christmas.

So, I get the idea behind the birthday gift prank played on the boy in this MilitaryKind video I saw shared on Facebook:

 

Birthday Prank

The boy is given a big box with more boxes inside of it. At one point he opens one to find a letter, which has him in tears reading out loud how his Dad won’t be able to make it home for his birthday. So sad. Then, he keeps on opening more boxes…Finally, he hits a note that says “Surprise” and out comes Dad — home after all.

Perhaps not as surprising is the mixed reactions on Facebook. Some people thought the whole thing so sweet — Father and Son reunion after all. Others were upset about the cruel trick played on the little boy.

One wrote: “Why put the kid through the emotional trauma of the first part of this surprise by first lying to him??? Cruel.”

I appreciated this response to that perspective: “…guess all of you saying how cruel this is have never done anything to tease anyone in your lives.”

Still, the comments made me view the video again in a different light. I’ve decided taking out the letter part, where the kid’s hopes are crushed, could have had the same surprise impact and softened the blow.

What’s the cruelest/cleverest thing you’ve done to celebrate a friend’s birthday?