What Does It Mean to Be Ignored at the Super Bowl?


Did you notice how the military was virtually absent from Super Bowl XLIX? It was weird. For the past 13 years, it has seemed like every other Super Bowl commercial featured Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, sometimes a Coastie!

We’d get the flyover. The military folks bearing the flag. The greetings from deployed troops, maybe a message from the First Lady. And then we’d get all the military-themed commercials designed to make you laugh or cry or love America.

We have written about whether that is a good thing or whether it makes service members akin to puppies at the ASPCA before.

Yet military commercials were curiously absent from Super Bowl XLIX, despite the fact that this was apparently the year of I-Love-My-Dad.

SUPER BOWLSure, we had the flyover, the flag bearers, maybe a deployed troop or two (I missed that part because I was on dip duty). I glimpsed some sailors in an NFL commercial, (but Rainbow Dash got just as many seconds of airtime in the same commercial so I’m not counting that.)

This year there were no reunion scenes.

No wounded warriors. No old veterans or moms welcoming their grown children home. There were no Budweiser Clydesdales carrying soldiers in hometown parades.

The closest we got to a military reference was in the Toyota Camry commercial “My Bold Dad.” The ending includes a dad dropping his daughter at the airport. She joins a group of people in cammies and puts on a backpack. Did this mean she was joining the military or dating a soldier and carrying his backpack?

What was this lack of commercials and eye-dabbing military love trying to say exactly?

I think they are saying that the war is over.

For the great number of Americans who watch the Super Bowl, the war is so last year. Advertisers must look at the military as a meme that has lost its juice, a trite and tired theme, an stale story oft told.

I think they are saying that the military as an image or a cause has been folded away in backroom with AIDS patients, Feed Africa, lung cancer survivors, Jerry Lewis’s kids, victims of 9/11. The advertising world has moved on. If you want a patriotic image of fatherhood, look no further than the guy risking his life at NASCAR, people.

For all of those who have served and are bearing the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual costs of war, that is hard message to see.

The war ain’t over with us.

War is never over for us. We are still deployed. We are still doing work ups. We are still recruiting, still training, still sweating, still dying. Our kids are still watching their dads or moms on United Through Reading videos. We are still sleeping alone for too many nights in a row and unpacking boxes on yet another base. The world for us is still a place of unrest.

Now we will be even more alone in this work.

Most of the people serving in the military today have never known a time in which the country ignored their contribution. They came of age after 9/11. They were thanked for their service. They were celebrated at the Super Bowl.

Now we are entering another age where the work is done outside the spotlight, off of the screen. We aren’t allowed to lose our juice. We aren’t allowed to go stale. We have to keep doing the work of national defense, until the next time we are needed.


U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kristi Machado



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