Even though a handful of vendors have been slinging “Military Lives Matter” t-shirts from remote corners of the internet for some time, this phrase never quite became mainstream. And rightfully so — targeted acts of violence aren’t typically visited upon service members and veterans domestically.
But that didn’t prevent Jason Aldean’s wife Brittany from boasting about a Nov. 8 launch of a line of “Military Lives Matter” t-shirts on Instagram, an unveiling featured alongside three other “patriotic” pieces, including one item that reads “Unapologetically Conservative.”
And while Aldean said a portion of the funds raised from the apparel’s three-day flash sale — there’s nothing quite like politicizing the military for profit — is going to the Special Forces Charitable trust, the singer’s wife failed to mention what percentage that might be. It’s also unclear what motivated Aldean to design “Military Lives Matter” shirts in the first place.
When George Zimmerman was acquitted in the July 2013 shooting death of Black teenager Trayvon Martin, a civil rights movement seeking to eradicate racial violence was born. The corresponding hashtag, widely-used ever since, was #BlackLivesMatter.
Since then, variations of the original phrase have seeped into the cultural zeitgeist, not least of which is “Blue Lives Matter,” which gained a foothold when NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed in Brooklyn in December 2014.
Inevitably accompanying a politically-charged catch-phrase is the opportunism on the part of select individuals to sell merchandise. Black and white American flags highlighted by a thin blue stripe can be purchased anywhere from brick-and-mortar stores to Etsy.
The “thin blue line” phrase, which predates 2013, was formerly used to describe police officers as the boundary between civilized society and chaos. Now, however, the “Blue Lives Matter” phrase is oftentimes viewed as the counter rallying cry to BLM, and like most slogans, has been adopted for widely-distributed merchandise.
Joining the fray now is the Aldean family, who were previously the center of a separate t-shirt controversy after photos were shared featuring their two young children wearing anti-Biden paraphernalia, including one shirt that said “Hidin’ from Biden.”
Perhaps the Aldeans’ next move will be tossing around ideas about a thin camouflage line.
Observation Post reached out Aldean, however request for comment was not returned at the time of publishing.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.