In talking with United States servicemen, George Saunders has discovered what many veterans think of the phrase, “Thank you for your service”. In a Studio 360 podcast, he states:
I have talked to vets who say that’s so irritating. You know, the sentiment is good but it has become a bit of a reflex at this point.
I am the first generation in my family not to serve in the United States Armed Forces. My father served in the Army in the late 1960s. One of my grandfathers served during the Korean conflict, while the other served during World War II. Coincidentally, my ancestry has been traced back far enough on both sides to confirm that my father’s side of the family fought against my mother’s side of the family in the United States Civil War. Both sides fought during the Revolutionary war. I have heard the stories of three of these wars, and read a few letters from another. The stories can be harrowing, saddening, and raw. They can also be inspiring.
Admittedly, I never feel guilty about not entering the service, however, that does not preclude me from having a significant appreciation for all that our service people have done for us, and continue to do for us both at home and internationally. Each time that I meet someone who has been in the armed services, I am humbled. I have no doubt that they possess a courage and will that I could never relate to, yet I am still able to understand that each man and woman who has served is admirable and deserves my thanks.
Only now, I am uncertain how to say it. After all, the last thing I want to do is be irritating. They deserve better than that.