"Thank you for your service." Why?

After reading this thread about a conversation with an Iraq vet, I wonder… why thank people for fighting in a war you don’t believe in? This question doesn’t apply to people who agree with the war, of course.

The whole “Support our troops!” phenomenon, in fact, has got me wondering. Can one legitimately support the troops without supporting the war? What’s the rationale for that – that our troops are supposed to follow orders without question, and that their superiors are the ones to blame?

It’s vicarious gratification, or punching by proxy.

Really, it’s the wife and kids and dog that should be thankful. If not for the Iraq war, Mid-American RedStateMan would beat them around twice as often and hard, when the beer and tv are finished.


It’s a cheap way for people to make themselves feel virtuous – like putting those magnetic ribbons on their cars.

I feel bad for those guys, but…grateful? Why?

I almost started this exact thread after reading the other.

I have thanked veterans before, especially those that I am close to because I talk to them more. I have never thanked an Iraqi vet. There are a few reasons for that. First, I hardly talk to any Iraqi vet. I know a few, but not that I usually spend time with or talk to. Second, the two or three I email every week or so are friends from high school. They are much more interested in talking about how life is “back home” and talking about good times we used to have that the topic of war doesn’t come up much. I don’t mind and they don’t seem to.

I think Diogenes the Cynic put it well in the other thread. They are in a non-defensive state and therefore are not protecting freedom by defending it, but fighting an offensive war.


Granting for the sake of argument that they shouldn’t be there (which I personally agree with), the fact remains that they are risking their lives to help the country. For that, I am grateful.

The vet’s fought them there, so M-A R-S-M doesn’t have to fight them here.

I was having drinks with a guy I know who was going over there. The bartender overheard us and said “Thank you for your service.” Without batting an eye my friend said “So that really was what you wanted for your birthday.”

Well, but the whole point is that people who don’t agree with the war wouldn’t think they’re helping the country, right?

How are they helping the country? That’s my whole point. The war has nothing to do with defending the US. I have sympathy for them. I contribute to veterans charities. But thanking them just seems weird. It’s like thanking someone for getting hit by a car. I feel bad for them. I’ll help them if I can, but thank them? For what?

There’s a minimum amount of violence against innocent people, without which conservative USA cannot continue. If it cannot be done to innocent foreigners, then it has to be the domestic defenceless, doesn’t it. And you don’t want that, it might make your friends and family the victims.

Obviously for having the bravery to take on a large vehicle? Or just for the fact that they gave you money to thank them? Wait - Dio, you got the money, right?


How tongue-in-cheek is this? Can’t tell if you’re serious.

From what I know of his past history, he’s serious.

Mmm, I will have to be more precise, I did mention that I thanked one Iraqi veteran, but it was after:

  1. I found out that he is smart enough to figure out on his own that we were not supposed to be in Iraq.

  2. He was fighting then to avoid being send back to Iraq after he was wounded slightly (at the same time his colleague was killed)

  3. His family will vote democratic in the next presidential election because they think Republicans had control of the wheel for too long. (Seeing that they voted Republican in the last 2 presidential elections I think saying that is their rationalization for finding the promises and say so of the current Republican leadership to not fit reality)
    And that is besides me believing like Joseph Campbell that a soldier remains brave even if he is send to the wrong place, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” The only break I make with that is when I hear a soldier is found to be involved in abuses and murder on the field, and even then I think I will point the accusing finger more to the current Republican leadership, for they are the ones that are more responsible for all that is going on.

No matter what I think about this war. No matter what they have done. I only wish for them to return unharmed. This is a simple and decent wish.

Being the wife of a National Guardsman who is most likely going to deploy in April (or thereabouts) of next year, we hear “thank you for your service” a lot. Funny thing is, my father retired USAF, he fought in Vietnam – we never heard people tell him thank you. Not the average person, anyway. My brother also retired USAF.

I often have wondered why people thank military men for their service, but the truth is that what the military does is far more than just go to Iraq. No matter what you or I think of the war and our occupation of that country, there is a fuck of a lot more going on than that in the world. Perhaps some of these people are thanking these men for that?

In particular, when there are emergencies in your local area, it is almost always the Nat’l Guard who help clean up, keep the peace, etc. Why wouldn’t you thank them? Or is it that because you disagree with a decision with which those men have nothing to do that you feel they don’t deserve to be thanked? I donno. I am torn on this, because I do find it odd that random people walk up to my husband and thank him. I wonder what their motivation is.

In the end, I am grateful to the military men for what they do, because I know more of what they do than what the media tells you. I know that there is more than just Iraq going on out there.

Just weighing in. While I agree that the recent trend is just an easy way to “feel virtuous” and to be “patriotic” trust me, they do more than what you seem to think they do…

Bob Dylan said,

“Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings.”

Those politicians in Washington, including the prez., are sent there by the American people. That’s you. Now you may offer up arguments in objection, but you are ultimately responsible for the actions of your elected representatives, they derive their authority from you and they speak for you.
When enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces, each person takes this oath:
''I, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
So help me God!"

The vast majority take the oath quite seriously and the training they take reinforces that commitment. If they didn’t, this country, and each of us, would be in serious trouble.
In addition, military life often requires hardships, and personal sacrifices, that the average civilian would find totally unreasonable and unacceptable. Once you take that oath, you are on duty, or available for duty, 24/7/365.
It’s not about the fight they’re in, it’s because they are ready and willing to fulfill the oath they took. That is the reason they are deserving of thanks and support.

If he did, he was ripping off Samuel Johnson.

I agree with Litoris - the current conflict is bullshit, and there’s no way on earth those people in Iraq, no matter how much of a shitty time they’re having, are fighting for “our” (I include the UK in this) safety or freedom. However, should we have a genuine need for defense it’s they who will be on the firing line.

I still find it a bit icky, and it’s much more of a US thing than elsewhere, but I think I get why.