Why ‘Thank You’ Is Just the Beginning on Memorial Day
Thank you for your service. It’s a phrase that has become almost synonymous with Memorial Day (and to some extent, Veteran’s Day) in America. From billboards to TV ads, graphic design to greeting cards, these 5 words are the catch-all catchphrase that stands for a debt of gratitude that American citizens cannot possibly repay.
And so, with so much to be grateful for in a free country, it might be time to ask ourselves: “Shouldn’t we try to say just a bit more?”
This line of thinking actually started a year ago, when we met with Peter Salerno, owner of our parent company Peter Salerno Inc. and a veteran of the United States Navy. On our way out of the meeting leading up to Memorial Day, we turned at the door and stated, “Hey – thank you for your service.”
Peter smiled, of course, and nodded his head in a “you’re welcome”. Later that day, we realized that while we meant what we said, Peter was probably going to hear the same 5 words dozens more times over the next several days, and had for decades before that.
This isn’t to say that veterans aren’t happy to hear “thank you for your service”. At their core, most American military veterans are humble, modest, and shy away from personal praise. They’re not looking for individual recognition or to be ‘singled out’ for their heroism and valor.
But just because our military heroes don’t ASK for more than a ‘thank you’ doesn’t mean we shouldn’t GIVE it to them.
Think about your own life – what you do, where you’ve been, and what roles you’ve come to occupy in your life. If you’re a teacher, it must be lovely to get your first few “World’s Best Teacher” gifts. As an actor, your first “Break a leg!” is a cool thing to hear. But after countless repetitions of the same well wishes and compliments – whether we mean it or not – those common refrains start to ring a bit hollow and a bit dry.
It doesn’t take much to put a little more effort into your gratitude this Memorial Day!
If you have a family member, friend, loved one, neighbor or colleague that has served in our nation’s military, take an extra few minutes to find out more about their service, their personal likes and interests. “Design” the military veterans in your life a special show of your thanks – even if it’s as simple as crafting a new way to say “Thank you for your service”.
Take a little time to help a veteran with a project, errand or work around their home. Volunteer to drive an elderly veteran to a Memorial Day Parade or out to lunch. Or do something that’s increasingly rare these days – pick up the phone, send a letter, or make a personal visit.
To the U.S. military veterans and those who gave their lives in service of our country – we know “thank you” isn’t enough to repay you. We also know that you don’t ask for our gratitude, recognition or payment – your sacrifice is selfless. Regardless of why or how you entered the military, the fact remains that you gave of yourselves for the greater good of our country, and you personally protected the freedom and security of families like mine that you will never know or meet.
So this year, we’re choosing not to “thank you for your service”. Because in many ways, we should be thanking you for everything.