From an email chain to mainstream recognition of deployed service members
One of the most recognizable initiatives for honoring deployed service members is known as R.E.D Friday, or Remember Everyone Deployed Friday. From military family members to AAFES employees and beyond, you will see these groups styling in red once a week, but where did this coordinated clothing effort come from? While the true origin story is somewhat shrouded in mystery, there are two main theories as to how R.E.D. Friday came to fruition.
Travel back to 2005 for the first theory. It was during the height of the War on Terror after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The best way of mass communication at the time with friends, family, and co-workers was emails, and the infamous email chains were landing in almost all inboxes across servers. Many chains asked readers to spread the email in order to get “good luck,” or in this case, wear red in support of deployed service members.
According to an article on Military.com, R.E.D. Friday was a popular email chain that prompted readers to spread to all of their friends or co-workers in order to have the nation cloaked in red apparel in support of deployed service members. Some of the email read as follows:
“If every one of our members shares this with other acquaintances, fellow workers, friends, and neighbors, I guarantee that it will not be long before the USA will be covered in RED — and make our troops know there are many people thinking of their well-being. You will feel better all day Friday when you wear RED!”
The second theory of R.E.D Friday history originates from our neighbors in the north, Canada. In 2006, Canada adopted the tradition of wearing red on Fridays, as red is the prominent color in the country’s flag. Canadian military spouses Lisa Miller and Karen Boier organized an event and rallied many of their fellow countrymen to show up wearing red. These smaller events gained momentum until Prime Minister Stephen Harper organized a larger rally in support of troops deploying to the Middle East.
The initiative eventually crossed the border into the US after a former Marine, Lloyd Hofmeister, participated in the Canadian R.E.D. Friday and saw its potential in the States. He started redshirtfriday.org in order to explain the initiative and sell red shirts where some of the profits would be donated to programs to help veterans find homes.
Unfortunately, the site does not exist anymore, however, there are several other websites that support R.E.D. Friday as nonprofit organizations. Redshirtfriday.com is one of them, and a portion of their profits go to charitable organizations such as Patriot Paws and Active Valor.
Military spouses, family members, and organizations can support the R.E.D. Friday by not only wearing red, but by volunteering or donating to military and veterans support organizations:
- Blue Star Families
- Hiring our Heroes
- Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) locations near you
- Your local Family Readiness Groups