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Community photography

Uniform history affecting our lives #life


I went to West Bromwich Manor House yesterday to photograph an American Civil  war re-enactment. Not really history that I can identify with, but still interesting. History shapes society and gives us our culture.


I’m admin of a local history group and I looked at the uniforms that people used to wear and still wear today. We are used to police officers and the military wearing uniforms, but when I was young others wore uniforms too. The park keeper was easily recognised by his uniform, as was the cemetery keeper. Uniforms are a symbol of authority and often worn with pride. I found that the Town Hall office keeper and mace bearer had a uniform too.

These uniformed people of authority usually had a house that went with the job and coal and gas to go with it. They were thought highly of by the local council and treated with the utmost respect. They were treated with respect by the local community too, who saw the uniform as symbolic of their dedication to serving the public.

Soldiers, sailors and airmen also serve society, but often they aren’t treated with the respect they deserve. They are not paid killers, they are public servants whose role is to protect the public. Their role isn’t to  rape and pillage like the primitive tribes that once roamed feudal England. They are, above all else, peacekeepers. They can do that without resorting to primitive acts, without humiliating the enemy. They need to know what they are doing is right, even though they have to kill, in order to protect. Too many soldiers have been asked to defy their conscience and they come home to nightmares and post traumatic stress disorder as a result. They should wear their uniform with pride, we should never ask them to behave like animals. They must do their job with compassion, empathy and pride.

We can all learn something from the experiences of people in uniform, who serve society. We all wear a uniform of sorts, whether it’s a suit to the office or the white overalls of a painter and decorator. Maybe, we should beware the people who don’t wear some kinds of uniform. Perhaps, they lack pride in what they do?

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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