(Yours truly in Vietnam, 1967)It happened again today. A guy I just met thanked me for my "service." This time around, however, I finally figured out what bothers me about the current compulsion to thank veterans and active duty people for serving in the Armed Forces. Now that no one has to serve, merely joining the military is seen as going above and beyond the call of civic duty. That's unfortunate. I may be jeopardizing my standing as a card-carrying liberal, but I'm conservative enough to believe that all of us have an obligation to give something back to our country.
In my day (am I sounding old or what?), it was just expected that the majority of able-bodied young men would be drafted at age 19 or 20. Major employers, in fact, wouldn't even talk to male high-school graduates. Their standard stall was "get your military obligation out of the way, and then come back to talk to us." Merely serving back then was considered a given, a commonplace, and not a mark of distinction. Would that it were viewed in that light again.
Of course, there is such a thing as legitimately going above and beyond the call of duty, and those who do so deserve our gratitude and public recognition. As for me, I just did what I was expected to do, and no one need thank me for that. --EFP