Thanks but no thanks.

November 11, 2011 Comments Off on Thanks but no thanks.

Allow me to begin by stating that I do not include combat veterans in this post. Combat is horrifying and I am willing to pay my respects to anyone who had to go through it even if I don’t agree with the circumstances or decisions that sent them into combat in the first place.

But oh am I sick to death of seeing/hearing “thank you for your service.” Just because someone joined the military doesn’t make them a hero; mostly, it makes them someone who does a simple job for their employer, who just happens to be the United States. My own dad was an Air Force surgeon, which means just about exactly the same thing as being a regular surgeon. There are all kinds of bureaucrats and file clerks and engineers and doctors in the military, doing regular jobs. They are not heroes. All they’re doing is allowing the US military to continue to function, which I cannot get behind. Admittedly I don’t know much about the military, but beyond its mere presence, I am unconvinced that it has done anything really constructive since WWII. How many real threats to the US does the military prevent each year? I know a guy in the Navy who is stationed in Japan. What the heck is the Navy doing in Japan? What could his outfit possibly be doing that is constructive and useful? And yet, people who are stationed in a peaceful, useless place and who placidly complete their IT duties or whatever will come back to the US, where wearing a uniform will get you showered with gifts and “thank you for your service.” Why should we thank these people for their service? They are only doing their job, which is nothing special, and, speaking for myself, thanking them for their service would imply that I am glad the US military has such fine upstanding people working for it, which is not the case—I would rather the US military floundered in its lack of personnel until it dies an ignominious death…or at least gets cut back to a reasonable size. The problem is that people in the military are serving politics rather than the country. While this can in some cases lead to actions that are brave, incredible, heartbreaking, tremendous, in general it is nothing more than a dull day job. So you’ll excuse me if I don’t fall all over myself praising anything in a uniform and buying drinks as tokens of my boundless gratitude. The same goes for people in uniform as goes for everyone else: when you find that they have done something extraordinary, treat them accordingly. Until then, be polite and move along.

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