Commentary

August 23, 2013

What’s in a name? Power, pride, identity

Maj. MELINDA SANTOS
56th Maintenance Group
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”

Was Shakespeare mistaken when he wrote the above words for Juliet to speak?

Studies have shown there is preference in a name. Attractive or popular names affect our attitudes and expectations about their owners. It may also lead to high self-esteem and high self-esteem yields achievement motivation.

People can be partial to their alma mater, quickly identifying themselves as a Texas A&M University Aggie, University of Florida Gator, Louisiana State University Tiger or a University of Oklahoma Sooner. No matter which school you support, the name is more than a name. It represents what someone endured to get their degree. It represents a hometown, and for some, it may represent a dream of things to come. A name is powerful.

Now, what does any of this have to do with the military? Having a sense of ownership of your organization and the name under which you fall can determine how you perceive your unit and affect your experience. What is your organization’s war cry? Those who stand firm behind the name of their organization are more likely to make a more cohesive unit.

A good example is the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron. If you have been to a promotion ceremony, it is likely you have heard them yell, “What is your profession?” While the response is simply “Engineering,” the power with which it is said speaks for itself. It is no wonder why they have won many warrior cry competitions.

An organization’s name, or warrior cry, can quickly communicate so much to so many. Moreover, it may communicate underlying paradigms to everyone in the organization. It builds an identity for your organization which may foster improved esprit de corps. Creating or improving your organization’s identity may increase organizational integrity and act as a quick reminder of what the mission and focus is for your unit. It can show accomplishment or help set a goal to achieve. Getting as many people involved in the process ensures it is more than just a platitude yelled at a promotion ceremony or graduation.

The next time you are at a wing event, listen to the war cries. Does it accurately depict the organization? Does it rally support? Creating a collective identity leads a person to make a statement such as “I am a Duck” (309th Fighter Squadron or Aircraft Maintenance Unit), “I am AMMO,” or “I am Weapons.” It brings about a sense of pride in an organization. Have you helped build the identity of your unit?

While Juliet pleas that the names of things do not matter, only what things are, I contend a name, or rather a well-crafted warrior cry, can empower and unite. In the end a name, an identity, can make a difference.




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