"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank You For Your Service...

This past Sunday, Matt had to wear his Civil Air Patrol dress blues to church. He had a CAP activity directly after church and there was no time to go home and change.

Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary of the U. S. Air Force, so though it is connected to the military and utilizes military teaching and regulations, it is, of course not, active service.

Regardless, whenever Matt is in uniform in public - which he must be from time to time - he has people come up to him and want to shake his hand and thank him “for his service”. It is very cool, and warms my heart to see people that are so willing to take the time to thank a serviceman. In our case, however, it has always been a little awkward, in knowing how to handle this. Though Matt is not really military, especially not active service, he has always understood the real reason why people are thanking him. He used to try to explain, that no, he wasn’t military; he was Civil Air Patrol which is the civilian auxiliary of the USAF. He did not want to mislead them, or accept undeserved thanks or praise. Invariably, though, people wouldn’t understand and it would embarrass them that they had been wrong….or there were times they would understand and that would embarrass them. It was really very awkward, so Matt came to realize it was simply better to shake their hand and accept their thanks by saying, “Thank you, Sir.”; "Thank you, Ma’am".

I asked him about it one time and he told me, “Mom it embarrasses them otherwise. I have learned it is just better to acknowledge their thanks and move on. It makes them feel good, and it makes me feel good. It embarrasses them otherwise and makes me look like I am standing down from the uniform.” Sometimes he will say, “No, I’m not active service. I’m just serving my community through search and rescue; and volunteer service.” CAP teaches their members to accept the thanks, and just know that they are serving the community, but in a different way than what is thought.

I came to understand that Matthew had it right. What maturity he had shown in reasoning that out and coming to his own decision on how to handle it.

Still, I think it is awesome that people are so willing to thank some one in service. Our military is so important and they totally deserve our thanks, respect, and support.

I will never forget a few years ago, when Matt was just little and my husband was still driving long-haul. As Matt is home-schooled, he and I were able to travel with his dad from time to time. Talk about a way to educate your child. Wow! …Ok, that’s obviously for another blog. But on one particular trip, we had taken a load to Seattle and had some time to kill after we had delivered it. In my opinion, waiting to find our next load was the worst part of trucking. One doesn’t drive those semis “empty” any further than is absolutely necessary. Anyway, Matt’s dad always tried to make things fun and special for us while we were waiting for those loads. This time we had delivered close to downtown Seattle, so we were able to leave the truck and walk to some shops nearby to make our time of waiting more enjoyable. There was an Army/Navy Surplus store up the road that my husband knew about, so we decided to walk over there, first. We looked around for awhile and my husband ended up buying a ball cap with “Viet Nam Veteran” on the front of it. Ok, well that gives away how old we are…you might figure, we had Matthew quite late in life. Yep, we did, but I'm not quite as old as Dad!  ;-)

My husband didn’t talk much about Nam, but I knew he was proud of his service, and had some emotion there that went too deep for words. The big, well-known Sears building was across the street from this little surplus store, so that would be our next stop. My husband put on his new hat and we worked our way over to Sears. As we were climbing the stairs to the entry of the big department store, a gentleman was coming out. He saw the hat, stopped my husband with an out stretched hand and said, “Let me thank you for your service.” Matt and I just kept going, letting them talk a minute. When Daddy rejoined us, I could see he was extremely moved. “That is the first time anyone has ever thanked me for my service,” he explained. My husband was discharged from Service in 1970 and this probably occurred around the year 2000. Matthew was about 7 years old at the time, and my husband had been out of the service for 30 years. I’d say that was a bit long to wait for his first thanks. Still, that is what happened to those Viet Nam Vets.

I believe our nation has grown-up in this area a bit since then. Or maybe we have finally returned to the way things used to be. I know when the soldiers came back from World War II; they came back to a grateful nation. Yeah, Viet Nam was a little different. It became a political war, and one we didn’t “win”. Those guys that served were spit on, made fun of, and blatantly disrespected when they came home. Yes, there were some things that didn’t go real well over there, some soldiers ruined the military’s reputation, but to lump all into the same group and show the kind of disdain that was shown, was uncalled for and a bit of a tragedy in our Nation’s history. The Viet Nam Vets had served their country; some died, some lost limbs, some lost a capacity to function normally in society. They deserved our thanks. Personally, part of it I believe, was a bigger agenda to destroy our military in the public eye. There were some that didn’t want there to be any public support from our citizens for our military. I believe that is still the case today for some. But as Ronald Reagan later so eloquently stated, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” It is important that as a nation we understand that. But I guess that is for a different blog as well.

My husband didn’t say much else about the thanks he received that day. As is the case with all his military experience, he was pretty quiet about it, other than to tell me that was the first thanks he had ever received. God bless the gentleman that offered it. God bless those that want to correct the wrong to which our nation subjected those young men and women who had served in Viet Nam. Thank God, it is a different era now, a different understanding. Now, we find it is extremely unusual if my husband doesn’t receive a very special thank you when he wears his “Viet Nam Veteran” hat.

God bless our military; past, present and future!

Viet Nam Memorial Moving Wall
Spokane, WA - 1998

"The Wall That Heals"


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Yep, It sure is Rachel! He had that picture on facebook for a while. You are one of the few that noticed the reflection! :-)

    Also that is Matt and his dad and his dad's good friend at the Moving Wall when it came here. I guess he would have been about 5.

    Thanks for your comment!