When I returned home, I reacted the way “Twice” described. I was resentful that someone would take the time to honor me, but not the friends I lost. It was a long time before I realized that by honoring me with their sincere thanks, they were honoring every soldier we have ever lost. Now when I am thanked, I shake hands, I hug, and I thank them for their respect.
To “Twice”: Never stop! Do not be afraid. We are not hateful or angry. We are scared and sad. Your expression of thanks means more than any parade, any medal or any award could ever mean.
Brandon In Indiana
Dear Abby: As a soon-to-be-retired career Army officer, I am one of those who feel awkward when people thank us for doing our jobs. The Army was a career I chose, knowing the hardships and what would be asked of me. The military is filled with all kinds of people, and even though I may not always be in the mood for a stranger to approach me when I’m out and about, deep down inside it is refreshing to know that what I do is appreciated.
Phil in Washington State
Dear Abby: One day while walking in a cemetery, we saw an elderly gentleman leaning on the arm of his caregiver, and we realized he was looking at a veterans memorial. My wife approached and asked if he was a veteran. He looked at her and said, “Yes,” and she said, “Thank you very much for your service and your bravery.” He immediately teared up and croaked out a “Thank you.” His caregiver rolled her eyes.
My wife got into her face and said, “You have a hero on your arm, so show him some respect!” The veteran cried harder, grabbed my wife’s hand and said, “No one has ever said that to me, ESPECIALLY my caregiver.”