On Monday, Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, tweeted something dumb. While that’s nothing out of the ordinary, this particular tweet — criticizing millennials for staying home and playing video games rather than serving in the military — came at just the wrong time, and got smacked down by Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Congressman Marine infantry veteran of the Iraq War.
“Young men in the 1940s liberated Europe from Nazism and the Pacific from the Japanese Empire. Today, too many stay home playing video games,” Scarborough pontificated. Monday was Purple Heart day, recognized by the Department of Defense to honor American service members who were wounded in the line of duty.
Unfortunately, Scarborough didn’t count on millennials’ other favorite pastime (besides video games): social media. Twitter can bring people together at lightning speed, and sure enough, Gallego — who at 37 is either just barely a millennial or not quite one, depending on your definition — was there to call bullshit.
“It is ironic you say this on Purple Heart Day. My Marine Corps Company had 48 Purple Hearts, almost all were millennials,” Gallego tweeted.
Scarborough hasn’t responded to Gallego’s tweet, naturally. His support for what many baby boomers consider the greatest generation isn’t unusual, and his tweet is a perfect example of the tired stereotype of millennials as lazy or unwilling to serve. Fortunately, Gallego wasn’t here for it. The average age of an enlisted, active-duty military member is 27 — which definitely makes them a millennial.
Infantry and combat positions also skew toward the younger end of the spectrum (excluding special forces units, which are older, more experienced troops), meaning even by Scarborough’s standards of “real men liberating foreign countries,” almost every soldier who actually fought in America’s wars of the past two decades, was, in fact, a millennial. They weren’t all young men, of course, as women have often served in combat (although not in jobs designated “combat roles” until recently) throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
Scarborough, it’s worth noting, is a former lawyer/ politician and current talk-show host who has never served in the armed forces. The closest he got, perhaps, was as a member of the Armed Services Committee when he served as a Congressman from Florida from 1994 to 2001.
Gallego was a infantry Marine in Lima Company of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, a group of soldiers who fought in several major battles in Iraq in 2005 and lost 46 Marines and 2 Navy corpsmen in combat during the war, one of whom was Gallego’s best friend, nearly all of whom, he says, were millennials. He now serves as the Democratic representative to Congress from Arizona’s 7th district, which includes a lot of central Phoenix and eastern Glendale.