Arizona drivers have over 65 license plates from which to choose, all different colors and designs. I would think that diversity would be a handicap for anyone trying to tell police about a car that was involved in an accident and then decided to run. I can’t really think of any reason one would need that many choices. Even the vanity plates could be given on a standard plate. But the plates I really wonder about are the POW and Purple Heart plates. I don’t know why anyone needs to announce to the driving world that he/she was a prisoner of war or a recipient of the Purple Heart. Neither condition necessarily says anything about bravery in battle. One could be a hero before or after becoming a prisoner, one could be a hero and wounded in action. Or one could be a captured coward; one could cut a hand opening a can of C-rations or “accidentally” shoot himself/herself in the foot and receive the same Purple Heart as the one given to the hero. Stephen Crane wrote a novel discussing the very nature of courage in battle, The Red Badge of Courage, suggesting that any wound might or might not be a sign of bravery. Henry Fleming, the young Union soldier, beat a hasty retreat from his first encounter with the enemy and was later struck in the head by a fellow runner, receiving his “red badge.” And would Henry Fleming then buy a Purple Heart car license? Probably. He would remind me of all the blowhards I’ve encountered in one American Legion or VFW, who sit around nursing a drink as they relive fantasy adventures in one American war or another.
Maybe we should have both a Purple Heart and a Yellow Heart to distinguish between heroic and non-heroic wounds.