A long, long time ago, I was at my local Walmart after work and noticed a t-shirt in the men’s department that looked a lot like a Nazi Death’s Head, a Totenkopf. I took a picture of it with my Motorola Razr flip-phone.
When I got home, I compared the photo I took at Walmart to an image of a Nazi death’s head I found online:
You’ll notice they’re almost identical.
I decided to blog about it. I just started this blog and I needed things to write about. After I posted it, I linked it on Digg. Like I said, this was a long, long time ago. The post took off like wildfire infected with weapons-grade syphilis. Evidently, people had a craving for stories involving Walmart and Nazi imagery.
My blog post made the national news
A reporter from The Associated Press contacted me and interviewed me over the phone. I was then interviewed on TV by my local station, then NBC 25, now called Local DMV as in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They also run stories from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They lost their NBC affiliation some time ago. Now they show the news and lots of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I didn’t want to go on TV. The reporter who arranged the whole thing said if I didn’t agree to come in, she would show up at my front door with a camera crew. I didn’t want the reporter and the camera crew to show up at my door, so I relented. I went to their studio and was interviewed.
The interview appeared not only on NBC 25, but a lot of other places, including CNN. Other news organizations ran articles about it. I remember getting a call from someone at ABC News asking my permission to republish my photo.
I bring this all up because I noticed a lot of visitors coming here to read my old blog post about Walmart selling the t-shirts. It turned out Rollingstone.com published an article on Walmart.com selling “Impeach 45” t-shirts and they mentioned other teachable moments in Walmart’s long history. They included my story about the Nazi Death’s Head t-shirt including a link.
If I had to describe who I am to someone, I would never say I was a Maryland Air Force veteran-turned-blogger. I live in Maryland. I’m an Air Force veteran. I have a blog. The article seems to suggest that I got out of the Air Force so I could move to Maryland and become a blogger. I got out of the Air Force in 1994 and moved to Maryland for a job. My “online journal” didn’t begin until 2006. These two events were in no way connected.
Walmart never removed the t-shirts from their stores
The funniest thing about this whole incident was Walmart promised to remove the t-shirts from their stores. They never did. They kept on selling them like nothing happened. A good many news organizations reported Walmart removed the t-shirts because that’s what they said in their press release. If any of the reporters ever bothered to go to their local Walmart, they would have seen with their own eyes that the t-shirts were still for sale.
My biggest regret is that I never kept a t-shirt as a memento. I bought one, but then Sheri gave it to her brother from Christmas as a gag.
I am not a buff
A reporter from the Miami-Herald wrote an article about it and she described me as a “World War Two buff.” I emailed her and told her I was not a World War Two buff. She argued that I was, otherwise I wouldn’t have known the image’s history. If I was a buff, I think I’d know it.
I have only a passing history in World War Two. I’ve read a few books and I used to play Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader when I was in the Air Force.
Although I played Squad Leader, I also played a lot of Battletech and Dungeons & Dragons.
It was important to me that I not be labeled a World War Two buff because I thought it was insulting to real World War Two buffs, people fully dedicated to the buff lifestyle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this point across to the reporter.
The Internet is funny
I think it’s funny how something I blogged about nearly 12 years ago can still be a thing. It’s also quite hilarious the worst photo I’ve ever taken turned out to be the most widely disseminated and viewed photo I’ve ever taken. I used to be quite into photography and I’ve taken some decent photos over the years. This grainy pic taken with my flip-phone is the most famous.