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Despite Vets' Objections, U.S. Army Adopts New Look: Black Berets

Posted June 14, 2001

— The U.S. Army is celebrating its 226th birthday with a controversial change in policy. Black berets are now the standard headgear for most of its soldiers, but there are those still fighting to have the new mandate reversed.

In a short ceremony Thursday before the Army's birthday run, the new policy became official. The Army Chief of Staff ordered 1.3 million soldiers to now wear black berets, but many soldiers and veterans are not happy with the change.

The black beret has always been an elite symbol for rangers who feel they earned the headgear. Veteran Albert Marrero, chairman of the group, "Keep the Beret Airborne," says the group will continue a letter-writing campaign to lawmakers and President Bush.

"You went through hard, grueling training and earn the distinction to wear the black beret you wear it with pride. Why should everyone have the same distinction you do?" he says.

Fort Bragg Commander Dan McNeill regrets that many people feel the way they do, but he says the Army must change.

"The threat of forces today is considerably different," he says. "The requirements of the Army are different and the Army must go through a transformation, so it can respond to that threat. The beret is an outward manifestation of that change."

The group of veterans who are trying to get the decision reversed has declared Thursday as a Day of Infamy for the U.S. Army.

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