Why, even though I am a veteran, does it bother me to hear this?
Perhaps my problem is that the new social practice of thanking veterans for military service subtly reveals that such service is not as normal as it once was.
It was my privilege to grow up in a day when a high percentage of those in our communities were veterans of WWII or Korea. I also came to understand that it wasn’t only those who “went” to war who were “in” war. The whole nation shared common fears for the outcomes of both conflicts, as well suffering many material deprivations in order to further the war efforts.
As a result of the above, my young peers and I were raised by parents who knew what it was to truly appreciate freedom, because they were all too familiar with knowing the possibility of losing it, as well as the price they all paid to keep it.
That was then, and this is now.
Ezra wrote about 539BC, that the Jews who returned to Jerusalem shouted with joy when the foundations for the new temple were laid. Among them, however, were the old heads who had seen the former glory of the previous temple. These men wept while the others cheered. Each group responded from their own perspectives.
It was right that there was at the same time an appreciation for what had been lost, and excitement over hope in what was to come.
Regardless of the past, God always points us towards the future. That is the very nature of faith.
Therefore, trying to apply God’s principles today, I will respond to those who thank me for serving with a grateful smile and give thanks that there remains appreciation for sacrifice. I will also be grateful both for the past in that it has shaped my perspectives, and for the future, because I believe that God is already there.