Veterans: Should we stop thanking them?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Veterans
Rory Fanning cover of Worth Fighting For

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

Have you thanked a soldier for his or her service? I have, not knowing what else to do and wanting to say something. I’ve said it in the airport when I meet complete strangers in uniform. Sometimes they reply; sometimes they just look at me.

Is it time to stop thanking our veterans for their service?

That’s what many servicemen and women say: Stop thanking us.

Former Army Ranger Rory Fanning, for example, said that he doesn’t want gratitude for his service—he wants better policies, ones that don’t send so many young Americans to make the ultimate sacrifice. “There is no question that we should honor people who fight for justice and liberty,” he wrote. “Many veterans enlisted in the military thinking that they were indeed serving a noble cause, and it’s no lie to say that they fought with valor for their brothers and sisters to their left and right. Unfortunately, good intentions at this stage are no substitute for good politics.”

He wondered whether veterans would feel the gratitude intended by the Concert for Valor that was held Veterans Day on the National Mall. The free concert was sponsored by Starbucks, HBO, and Chase Bank, and featured mega stars like Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Rihanna, and Eminem.

Springsteen, it turned out, sang some anti-war songs, such as “Fortunate Son.” He was blasted for his unpatriotic theme at a patriotic event. But others lauded him for singing it, noting that another form of patriotism is critical patriotism.

Critical patriotism, as I’ve documented in United America, is one of America’s 10 core values.

Intrigued by Fanning’s point of view? He has just published a book, Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America. The book is dedicated to his friend Pat Tillman, the former football player and U.S. Army Ranger who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

Have you personally thank a soldier or veteran for his or her service?
Is it time to stop thanking our veterans?
What would be the best way to honor them?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Series Navigation<< Veterans: A civilian-veteran disconnect?Veterans: Do we need to do more to support them? >>


  1. Tim Richards says

    The best way to thank veterans for their service is to provide us support when we get home: e.g., medical care for the wounded (psychologically and physically), educational opportunities and employment opportunities.

    The best thanks we veterans could get would be sound policies and d good decisions about entering into wars, for example by never entering into war when there is not a clear national interest in doing so, when we are not prepared in terms of troop strength and materiel, when there is not strong public support for entering into war, and finally, when there are no contingency plans for what we will do when (as inevitably occurs) things do not go as the war enthusiasts had expected.