Tag Archives: military

day 36. ‘Thank you for your service.’

I’ve written about this idea before. The idea that only our military is performing a service that is worthy of special thanks has always rankled me. Now, in the time of COVID-19, we are discovering that there are others who serve that are equally, if not more, important.

Someone commented on FaceBook, right after the restrictions went into place and the stock market lost 20% of its value, ‘Maybe it’s the workers who are providing value after all!’

Grocery workers, delivery people including those who bring food to the grocery stores, and of course medical people are being appreciated more now than ever before. Does that mean they’re being paid better? In some cases, yes, but in others, no.

Amazon, owned by the richest man on the planet – and by the way getting richer by the minute – has fired workers who have tried to get better working conditions.

In my business, there is a growing realization that large gatherings such as Davies Hall concerts and big conventions may be months away, not weeks. The one thing that I always thought was most basic, the need for humans to gather in groups, has been blown up. I’m starting to see come comments that indicate awareness of the psychological shoals we are swimming in. There was a story today in the news about how liquor and pot stores are doing very well. Online gambling is surging.

Some are expressing hope that some kind of new order will emerge from all this. Will we humans learn to respect the earth and strive less? Honestly, I am skeptical.

But hopeful.

Day 36. The existing shelter in place order here in the Bay Are ends on May 3rd. That would be day 50.

But if the venue can’t reopen, I don’t have a job to go back to.

As I said early on, I have a roof over my head, the electricity, water and Internet are working, Sepi has a lot of food in the freezers here. I am thankful for all of that and more. No one in my family has gotten sick. If the worst we have to cope with is being stir crazy sometimes, I’ll take it.

I’m hopeful.

‘Thank you for your service.’

Veteran’s Day. I’ve been out on Facebook already this morning and seen this phrase, or variations of it, quite a few times. So I’ve got something to say about that and being that this is my blog, darn it, I’m going to say it.

Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are when this sentiment gets thrown around the most, but we see many other examples throughout the year of this. I think it was one or two Sundays ago that I noticed the NFL football games had some kind of ‘Thank you for your service’ theme. For the most part I just let it slide but today I’m going to rant about it.

What bugs me is that the implication of this phrase is that it is referring to the military performing some kind of ‘service’ that is worthy of this kind of adulation. We’ve been set up to think that this is a superior kind of service to our country. Yes, men and women in the military have sacrificed their lives and limbs in war. But we have to recognize that there are other forms of service that are just as valid. Is Jeremy performing less of a service to our country by being a firefighter and never having been in the military? Is Ashley or Jane performing less of a service to our country by teaching our children and never having been in the military? Is Teresa performing less of a service to our country by being a nurse and never having been in the military? No.

And there are many people who do time in the military who are never near the front lines and whose lives are never in any more danger than any other American. My uncle Pat was in the Army during World War II and he drove a supply truck behind the lines. My brother Tim served in the Army during the first Gulf War. He went to Iraq and was a guard at a prison compound. As far as I know, he never fired a shot in anger nor was he ever shot at by enemy troops. Tim, if I got this wrong, please tell me.

The point is that while the military is an organization designed to kill people for the state, the part that actually does the killing is relatively small. And nowadays we have soldiers sitting in air conditioned room playing video games (running drones) for their service – killing people for the state.

So I think we should talk about what service we really want to value in our country. I remember reading about the ancient Greek city states in school. Athens, where democracy reigned supreme, and warlike Sparta, where everyone was a soldier. My takeaway from that was that ultimately Sparta failed because democracy was good and war was bad. Now here in America we have a kind of democracy but we are also very war like. It pains me that we don’t value forms of service to our country that don’t involve killing people or blowing things up.

Jeremy, Ashley, Jane, Teresa, thank you for your service!