Thursday, January 13, 2011

A phrase that really bugs me

This is something of a rant -- my first, but surely not my last -- on this blog.

Tonight on the news I heard the phrase "people who serve their country," and I realized that it annoys me greatly that those words virtually always refer to people who are in the military. But why? To me, that exclusive association is nonsensical.

To my mind, all those who are doing work of any kind well are serving their country, helping to make it better, helping to make the lives of those around them better.

I'm a language tutor, a translator, a writer, an editor, and a weight training instructor. My husband is a tech writer, a programmer, and a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. As an aerospace engineer, he helped put men on the moon in the 1960s and the Viking lander on Mars in the 1970s. Our son was in the Air Force as a medic, and he served well and honorably. But now he is studying for a PhD in Bioinformatics, aiming toward a career in biological research.

To my mind, we have all helped and are helping many people around us. We are good, hardworking, productive citizens. The taxes we pay help sustain the city of Denver, the state of Colorado, and the country. So how are we not serving our country?

My opinion: If we want to talk about people "serving their country" and we are referring to those in the military, then we should say so. "He is serving his country as a member of the Army." "She is serving her country as a member of the Air Force." Etc. But let's not fail to recognize the valuable contribution to the good of this nation that is made by any law-abiding, hardworking citizen. We are all in this together.

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