Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Thank You for Your Service"

Picking up a thread from yesterday: GI Joe, the song, and following it to a general view of present day US military: I read a piece last week by Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque: Broken Spirits, Burnt Grass: Brief Notes from an American Journey. It afforded me an opportunity to comment about something I usually feel reticent to express: discomfort at the strange, almost religious approach accorded to members of the military here in the USA. It leaves me feeling queasy. I have the greatest, and enduring, respect for all soldiers, sailors and airforce personnel of both sexes who fought with Britain in World War 2. The military now, in what passes for "peace-time", is a completely different animal.

"Thank you for your service" is a routine remark made whenever someone wearing the uniform appears on TV. As Mr.Floyd described, the habit spreads even to passengers in military garb travelling on a plane. Many in the military do no more than the average garage mechanic, cook or office worker, who don't ever get a public thank you for services rendered. For me, first and foremost, fire-fighters, lifeboat crews and all first responders to disasters deserve a public "thank you for your service" - but they have no identifying uniform when not on the job.

By the way, I most certainly do not wish to thank any drone operators!

This routine thanking, in my opinion, devalues the very heartfelt remembrances expressed on 11 November and Memorial Day.

Anyway...no more rant, I could, but I won't. Just to say I recommend the linked article, and the comments, mine is among them.


Wisewebwoman said...

Yes I read him too, T, often I can't finish as it just hurts too much.

There are too many shades of fascism in this saluting of unknown military geeks in uniform sitting in first class.

Frankly, it creeps me out. And sp does this incessant talk of "freedoms" shee-ite, an oligarchy is now freedom?


mike said...

Hmmm...my thoughts on your post are complex. The US currently has a "volunteer" militia. Woe be to those individuals that signed-up with the reserves prior to the Bush administration! The voluntary recruits represent disproportionate socioeconomic strata that favors lower income, less educated individuals. This alone can induce guilt amongst the golden parents and their children...some "unfortunate" is protecting your homeland. The military, for several years, was the only "company" hiring that also paid benefits, and they took many individuals that would not be considered as desirable by most real employers...what's an eighteen year old drop out going to do, specially with baby on the way?

Little Bush turned the Middle East countries into a battle ground, resounding with patriotic duties to defend this area and our sacred American soil..."are ya fer us or agin us?"..."Where's your US flag pin?"..."Neuklur weapons of mass destruction!" (sometimes interspersed with the bio-terrorist traveling lab). Supporting our troops became a mantra of the Bush administration.

The draft ended in 1973 after the hugely unpopular Vietnam war. The returning soldiers were met with hostility and lack of support upon their return to the US. Most of those returning soldiers are now grandparents and feel pretty strongly about supporting the current troops in a fashion that was never afforded them.

Add Westboro Baptist Church into the mix, too. They protest the funerals of fallen soldiers (and many other events), because of heaven's wrath upon the US, particularly for homosexuality. This doesn't sit with our exuberant patriotism and requires an increased enthusiasm to offset the Fred Phelps' clan.

And we can't forget our favorite talking heads such as Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, etc. They have made gazillions off of defining what patriotism is for us, primarily by their accounting of the "unpatriotic". Can you count the endless blather dribbled from their mouths about how UNpatriotic some idiot was for not supporting our troops...or for not wearing their flag pin...or questioning whether someone was REALLY holding their right hand over their heart during the national anthem? The conservative right has attempted to black-list as thoroughly as Joe McCarthy himself.

I doubt that some troop in Arizona controlling the drones over Pakistan particularly asked for that position, but probably felt that was a better trade than actually flying over Pakistan dropping bombs per instructions from superiors (ultimately our President Obama).

I must say that I personally feel that many individuals are doing a job that I would prefer not doing, and I would never volunteer for it, either. The least I can do is offer my respect (and condolences). Without the volunteers, our military would have again become a draft militia...2004 brought much debate regarding conscription.

Twilight said...

mike ~~~ Thank you indeed for a beautifully balanced and reasoned comment. I was half-dreading, and wondering how I'd deal with, the wrath of some red-blooded right-wing armchair warrior, but feel more than grateful for your approach to the topic.

As you've probably gathered I'm "not from around here" and though I've gleaned facts of recent US history, could never glean the embedded feelings to go with them.

You've put this thing into perspective for me. Thank you.

I can't change myself and the feelings I've gathered from my life's experiences, but understanding another's point of view helps a great deal.

My approach to the issue probably won't change though, unless circumstances change radically, and the military do actually begin to defend and save citizens of the USA in the USA and elsewhere, rather than killing citizens of countries with an abundance of oil for reasons trumped up by those in power.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ there's a feel of soft-sell-fascism in it, I agree, especially when done in public, TV etc. for no apparent specific reason.

Freedom is comparative I guess, WWW, but again the word could bear to see a deal more edits from political speeches.