Why I Don’t Thank Them for Their Service

Every memorial or veteran’s day – and every other day for more militant-minded “patriots” – we hear the following phrase uttered to military personnel: “Thank you for your service”.

These people even exhort other people to do the same: “Thank a serviceman“.

Facts Are Facts

I’m usually quite direct and blunt – but rather than hurl insults at people who observe what is on the surface a genial and peaceful holiday, let me lay out some simple facts, and then leave you with a final question. I won’t answer it for you.

  • US military is the largest arm of the US government
  • US military – like any branch – exists to further the interests of the government at large
  • Some people believe the US government’s interest is to “defend our freedom”. On state holidays like today, this is played up. This is belied by the fact that fewer americans than ever trust the US government
  • Memorial day must then be a day of National Congitive Dissonance

Here are some more facts:

Military personnel are driven by “mission”. Their missions are handed to them by the civilian government. The government has had – and this is commonly admitted by normal, non-radical people – many dastardly missions in the last 50 years:

  • Invade & conquer Iraq (2003-present), resulting in (hundreds of) thousands of deaths
  • Deprive Iraqis of life’s necessities for 10+ years – inflicting 1M+ deaths – and be OK with it (1990-2003)
  • Bomb poor Cambodians back to the stone age, violating international treaties, and making way for one of the worst genocides in history (1970)
  • Bomb and massacre the Vietnamese to prevent a domino effect that never happened, and failing the mission anyway (1961-75)

Even WW2 – really the only widely supported war of the last 112 years – was a needless war for the US – indeed the world. Its widely acknowledged that Roosevelt provoked the Japanese attack and, if we still rank embargo as an act of war – one could argue that Roosevelt started the fight with Japan at first. And this isn’t crazy talk – even Herbert Hoover himself made his life’s work after office to write a 900 page grand opus against WW2 and US involvement in it.

And WWI? Who even knows what the hell that was about, much less is ready to call it great & glorious.

So finally, if the role of each military person is to further the missions just described, I have one question:

What are we thanking them for?

If you don’t accept my argument’s premises and supporting facts, then fine – you can answer “Because they’re defending my freedom”.

But if you accept my argument – and still insist these folks should be thanked – then I pity you for the inner moral tension you must feel.

Why Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day is Important

Its important to those in power – those civilians who badly use our patriotism and abuse the kids who go fight and operate these awful wars – that we say these slogans: “Thank you for your service“. Because without overt belief in the saintly goodness of US military might, a crucial intellectual pillar holding up the US empire is weakened. They can’t keep this madness up forever without us all believing it.

Its up to us who really don’t believe it anymore to be honest and speak out on the day of National Cognitive Dissonance.

Say “sorry”, say “I love you”, but don’t thank them.