How often have we told or heard someone say to a veteran, “thank you for your service”? I know it is better to hear that than, “how many babies did you kill today”? I’ve heard them both and certainly appreciate the first one more than the second.
The fact still remains there is a degree of hollowness with the first. I know the intentions are good; but, do you know what our service to our country was and is like?
Does anyone, other than a veteran, know or understand the pain and suffering while in the service and afterwards?
Let’s take Korea for an example in the life of an infantryman. While you were on patrol in the winter north of the Im Jin River inside the DMZ, the temperature could drop with the wind chill to 40 below or more. It would be so cold the water in your canteen would freeze, the radio batteries would freeze causing your radio to die and the battery to your sniper scope would freeze rendering it inoperable. You might be wearing 7-9 layers of clothes to try and stay warm; but, that didn’t work. You would feel the cold starting to come through the layers of clothing; then your skin would start to feel cold, then prickly, then numb which meant you were starting to freeze, slowly; freeze.
If you were lucky around 0430 AM. You would be able to move either to your pick up point or to place where you could catch some sun when it came up to help warm yourself; knowing that somewhere out in the cold darkness was a North Korean Special Forces Team waiting for you to make a mistake, locate you and kill you if they could.
There are horror stories too painful and graphic to describe in a blog or letter to the editors I am going to save those for my book; but the next time you say “thank you for your service”. Try to say “thank you for the pain and suffering you went through for our country and for me”. I think a veteran would be more grateful that you understand even if just a little.
So while we sit at home, safe and warm for the holidays, two of the loneliness’ holidays of the year for our service men away from home, think of our troops who are defending us around the world and try to understand the pain and suffering they are going through to do it.
Ask yourself if “thank you for your service”, is enough?