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?