"Thank You For Your Service
For the past few years I have noticed an increasing number of people who come over to my table at my book signings and elsewhere to thank me for my service,and I must confess that I am always a little embarrassed and uncomfortable when this happens for a couple of reasons.
First, I'm not sure how to respond to what obviously is meant as a complement. Don't misunderstand, I'll take all the compliments that I can get. I am no shrinking violet. I love it when someone compliments me, but this....this particular situation always leaves me mumbling some unintelligible platitude and wishing that the situation would quickly come to a close.
I suppose I should explain myself. As a twenty year retired Navy Chief Petty Officer what a well meaning person refers to as my "service" was really my chosen profession. I chose to reenlist and take what hardships - and there were many - came my way. The Navy was my professional choice and that is just the way it was. To be fair the Navy was getting no bargain with me. I stood on the carpet on numerous occasions paying my dues for a somewhat over exuberant liberty posture so I figure that we were even. If they would put up with me I'd take what they gave me and we'd be even. The Navy was my calling for better or worse
and as I look back I realize that I am pretty much the better for my having spent twenty years in the Sea Service. No need to thank me.
Second, I always wonder if there is a deeper meaning to this "thank you" thing. It's just too perfect. When I returned from Vietnam in 1969 there was not a lot of that mind set floating around. If some long haired dope smoking unwashed hippie recognized my Vietnam medals he or she was welcome to say anything that came to mind. First Amendment and all that. I just put them down as parasites feeding off the hard work and sacrifice of other Americans and moved on.
What was it Lincoln was supposed to have said about not arguing with an idiot? Something like that.
I also wonder if the person thanking me is really saying "glad it's you and that I don't have to serve. I'm free to do whatever I want and you guys can keep me safe while I'm
doing it." (Note: I was going to make a wisecrack about the ACLU here, but I decided against it). I wonder if they really are telling me that the task involved in keeping our
Country safe and strong is the business of someone else and not theirs, that they are free to enjoy living in the most prosperous, most free society that the world has ever known - ever! (Note: I have some personal concerns about where that freedom is going but I'll save it for another blog) and someone else can take care of the messy stuff.
And so, the bottom line here is what? I suppose that the bottom line is that if you stop by to visit at one of my book signings or some other social situation please do not thank me for my service. It was my choice to go.
Save your thanks for the guy who picks up your trash every week. He would REALLY appreciate it.