I was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force a mere four years. I never got within 3,000 miles of hostile action against American forces. To top it off, my small contribution was decades ago.
As a result, I am squeamishly uncomfortable accepting the appreciation when someone tells me “Thanks for your service.”
It took me a few years to get to a place where I could accept those comments.
I now graciously and proudly accept those expressions of appreciation from my fellow Americans, not because of what I did so long ago, but on behalf of all those soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who do not have someone looking them in the eye, shaking their hand, and saying “thanks.”
So for all those troops pulling alerts, standing watch, scheduling logistics, or taking fire, please know that vast numbers of Americans are grateful for your service.
I pass on to you their thanks.
You are there, not here, so many people have thanked me instead. It is you they are really thanking.
While today we remember with gratitude those who did not return, I hope those who are serving today hear the appreciation.