Thursday, July 20, 2017

PLEASE…DON’T THANK ME FOR MY SERVICE

            I got more than I gave….by a lot!      

PLEASE…DON’T THANK ME FOR MY SERVICE

911 96 11  It’s amazing!  I sometimes can’t remember my social security number.  But after three lifetimes, my U.S Navy service number is right there!  It is of no use for identification, as is the social security number, yet…there it is!

It seems to be in vogue these days to greet a military person with the phrase, “Thank you for your service.”  Or, “Thank you for your sacrifice.” Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s a nice gesture.  But I don’t think it appropriate directed at me.

I had just barely eked my way to  my high school graduation.  Our country was engaged in a proxy war with China on the Korean Peninsula. 

Since that war was being mostly fought on land, and both the Army and the Marines were drafting,  I thought a better bet would be the Navy.  A recent High School Graduate with no hopes for any deferment or any marketable skills had little time to act.  Pure bravery and patriotic fervor at it’s most noble!?  NOT!

So, why can’t I accept it when someone learns I spent four years in the Navy thanks me for my service or my sacrifice?  Here’s why.

In revisiting those years between my 18th and 22’nd birthday:  I did give up four years of my life in service of my country.  But…I met a mentor who recognized potential in this kid, and let me  know.  Since promotions in the  Navy are based on competitive exams, for the first time in my life I actually STUDIED!  I achieved the highest possible rank obtainable in a four year enlistment.

I received enough GI bill money to complete a college degree;  The barely passing high school student maintained a B+ average in college; While my Navy experience did not provide the skills I needed, it DID provide me with the confidence to pursue a successful career.

Although being attached to a Marine Corps Unit as a Navy Medic, I never got within earshot of personal danger.

I could go on, but I think you get the message.  Rather than a sacrifice, the decision to Join the Navy right out of High School is one of the best ones I ever made.  Whatever contributions I made to my Country are a drop in an ocean compared with what those four years did for me.  Thank me for my sacrifice?  No.  Not when I think of all those kids who either don’t come back, or return with broken bodies and crippled minds totally unprepared for civilian life.  Elderly twenty year olds.  Thank them, and maybe add an apology for sending them off to futile battles, only to abandon t when they return. And while the reception our returning military has changed.  (WW 2 were welcomed as heros; Korean Vets were pretty much ignored; Vietnam’s returnees were vilified and spat upon as if they had plotted the war itself,  Maybe it was the abysmal way those Vietnam Vets were treated caused the current “Thank you for your sacrifice” greetings.  The only thing consistent in how all those ex-military personnel were welcomed home from our many wars is that from disdain to worship, as a society we did little or nothing to prepare them for return to civilian life.  Words are cheap.  Acting responsibly can cost money. 

I feel to includ compelled to insert this quote from Jeanette Rankin: “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”

Hero’s deserve your thanks. And just saying it is not enough. They truly have sacrificed. I cannot consider what I did in any way a sacrifice.  No.  Rather my brief tenure turned my life around in a long term and positive way.  Sharing with those who really experienced the horrors of war, would be hypocritical for me.  No.  No, thank you.
911 96 11  Robert Adams Meyerson, Dental Technician, 1st class.














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