General Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

Military members both current and former: Would you think it rude if someone approached you and thanked you for being in the military?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21433points) September 22nd, 2010

Just tonight, I saw a man in army fatigues in the grocery store. Whenever I see a member of the military in fatigues or a uniform, I have the urge to go up to that person and thank him/her for serving. I was going to approach this man until it occurred to me that maybe he would find it strange and unsettling.

So, military Jellies, would it be acceptable for me to do this?

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47 Answers

josie's avatar

I once had somebody thank me in an airport. I thought it was nice. I said, “No problem”.

krose1223's avatar

My husband gets it a lot and he doesn’t think it’s weird. Actually it’s kind of a nice change because there are a lot of people that don’t appreciate military, especially when they are stationed where they live. It’s not even about appreciating, military people get a lot more crap than some people realize, just for living somewhere.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My husband doesn’t mind it either. Actually none of the soldiers I know are bothered by it.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Beats the hell out of getting spit on.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wouldn’t think it would be rude….
@WestRiverrat Vietnam, huh. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this Q. In the early 80’s I was camping with my sister and her boyfriend in Washington state, and we managed to hook up with a Vietnam Vet during one long, wet, rainy night. Long story. But at some point I thanked him, and he almost broke down in tears.

wilma's avatar

I have stopped and thanked men and women in uniform. They didn’t act like it bothered them. Most of them said something like “you’re welcome.”
On September 11, 2005 I was in Canada, on my way home to the US. I stopped at that rest stop on the 401 east of London. There was a group of Canadian soldiers there waiting for their food at Tim Horton’s. I approached them and thanked them for helping to keep us all safe.
I got a wee bit choked up and almost started to cry. They were very gracious (one guy patted my shoulder) and said that they appreciated my support.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Dutchess_III Actually it was after Desert Storm. I had the displeasure of being routed through San Francisco on my way back from the sandbox.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t see why one would get offended, I actually appreciate it. I reply with a ‘Thank you and you’re welcome’.

gtreyger's avatar

I appreciate those statements.

Winters's avatar

Better than being called a xenophobic baby killer, my friends and I all appreciate it.

shniernan's avatar

I thank military personnel all the time… And I’m 13. Anyone in uniform has my full honor.

And it really touches them coming from a kid. I always get a thank you of some sort, so go ahead, it’s the least you can do for those blessed enough to come back.

rowenaz's avatar

I thank them when it comes up. Absolutely – and if they feel uncomfortable, it’s just being humble. I’d like to thank all the service men and women, past and present, for serving our country.

ducky_dnl's avatar

My brother is happy when people thank him for serving. It really means something to him.

Trillian's avatar

Um… I’ve been thanked on more than one occasion. No, I never thought it was rude. I was a member of a very special club, and not just anyone can be part of it. My response is always the same; “Honored to serve.”
I cannot speak for other military members, and would hate to tell you to go for it and then have some AD member having a bad day take it out on you. I think in general though, it would be taken in good spirit. We often do a thankless job for a load of loud mouth people who call us names and say bad things about us, so it’s nice once in a while to hear from another segment of the population.

zen_'s avatar

Not at all.

GladysMensch's avatar

Unless you’re being rude in the act of thanking them… literally interrupting them, using a sarcastic tone, giving the finger while thanking them; I don’t see how it could possibly appear rude. How can thanking someone, anyone, for anything be considered rude?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I often have the same desire to verbally thank them, and yet refrain. I usually just look for eye contact, smile and give a nod.

Why? Because I don’t know why they joined. Maybe it is just for the opportunities in a career and education. Maybe it has nothing to do with their willingness to serve because they were drafted. Maybe they had all of the right intentions and changed their mind once they found out the reality of the business. They may no longer believe in what they were assigned to do. They may be resentful for oblivious civilians like me who gets riled up when someone doesn’t flush the toilet in the public restroom.

I have a great deal of respect for those that join the armed services. I should do more to show my support. Any recommendations are appreciated.

amazonstorm's avatar

If I were in the military, I would have no issue with being thanked.

Ivan's avatar

Well it’s certainly not rude. It’s silly and unnecessary, but that’s for a different discussion.

MLZ's avatar

I thank service people regularly. I do not think it is rude, though I am a little embarrassed because I was in the US Army Reserve, not regular army, though that is my problem.

My father and brother counseled me not to go to USMA in the mid-60’s due to the the low esteem of the military then, and it got much worse with “hippies” and liberals insulting our military to their face in the following years so I think people want to make sure that that stuff doesn’t reoccur.

I do question liberal politicians who say they respect the military before launching an anti-military attack, much like years ago bigots would say some of my best friends are black before spewing raciest remarks.

Blueroses's avatar

A few years ago I was waiting for a plane in Chicago when a group of newly-graduated sailors came onto the concourse. One man started it, and soon every one of us was on our feet applauding them. It was such a touching moment, I’ve made a point of showing appreciation to every service member I’ve encountered since. Also, if you really want to make someone’s day, approach and thank a stranger in a parking lot whose car bears a my family member is in the service bumper sticker.

Jeffinohio's avatar

I’m a bartender, and a former Marine. Any opportunity I get, I thank these men and women. I don’t find it weird or unsettling to do so. I will further admit, that when I’ve asked for I.D., If I saw a military I.D., I didn’t check it for their age, just the branch of service, I handed it back, bought their first drink for them, and thanked them for serving our country.

I’m a professional in my job, but by no means should they not be permitted to drink regardless, they keep us safe, and potentially could sacrifice their lives to protect the American way. Therein lies another discussion.

Thank them if you think it’s right, they will appreciate it.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Thank you so much everybody! Mostly I was worried it would be rude because I certainly would be weirded out if some random person came up to me and thanked me but it’s good to know that so many servicemen and women appreciate it.

@Ivan: Why do you think it’s “silly and unnecessary?”

Ivan's avatar


It’s not like military members are going way out of their way to do something noble. Sure, it might be tough, but a lot of jobs are tough. I don’t go around thanking construction workers and garbage men. Military members get paid, they get benefits, etc. It’s not as if they’re volunteering. They certainly don’t need to be thanked simply for doing what they’re paid to do.

If some foreign nation invaded our country, I would thank someone who volunteered for the military to defend the country. Not only would that be a brave and noble act, but that would be a scenario in which the military was defending my life and wellbeing. In any other scenario, I would just be thanking someone for doing their job.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Actually they do volunteer @Ivan If enough people did not volunteer, we would be conscripting people to serve.

The benefits and the pay are not much to begin with, if they were, we wouldn’t have a bunch of soldiers needing food stamps and WIC to feed their children.

Ivan's avatar


I’m sorry, I meant that they don’t work without pay. I understand that some military members struggle to make a living on military pay, but a lot of people struggle to make a living in other jobs as well. I don’t go around thanking people who work minimum wage.

I think the issue here is whether you see military work as somehow more noble than other jobs. I don’t think that, just by joining the military, you become some wonderfully generous person who travels around the world, fighting for good.

Jeffinohio's avatar

@Ivan, have you ever been shot at? Have you ever fought to survive? These men and women uphold principles, basically, we call it the American way. Do I agree with how our military is used, not really, but I served, have been shot at, but was not in a position to fight to survive.

If the military was so great, everyone would be there. Are there opportunities, yes. Does it pay well, as compared to civilian life, not really. You remarked about thanking a minimum wage person for doing their job. Just a thought, but sometimes even minimum wage employees should be thanked.

I will thank these so called minimum wage employees, simply because they allow you and I to continue to live our lives, unfettered from daily bombings and having our neighborhoods being overrun by the enemy. They will potentially give their life so you can sit here and under value their importance.

Ivan's avatar


Please explain how Army Private Joe Smith, whom I might see at the grocery store, is allowing me to continue living my life, unfettered from daily bombings and having my neighborhood overrun by the “enemy”.

Blueroses's avatar

@Ivan You have a point. I appreciate thanks when I do my job well but I don’t expect it because I am being paid to do a good job. On the other hand, my profession doesn’t tend to generate reflexive hatred from people who don’t know me based purely on their dislike for my employer.
It saddens me to hear about service members who are spit upon, insulted or attacked only because of their uniform. If I have the opportunity, I’ll try to balance the scale a bit by showing them some support. A smile and a “thank you” costs me nothing.

Ivan's avatar


Certainly I don’t think that insulting or attacking people simply because they are in the military is justified.

My point is this: your opinion of someone shouldn’t change (for better or for worse) just because they happen to be in the military. No one deserves to be spit on just because they joined the service. Similarly, no one deserves to be thanked just because they wear the uniform.

But your point is a good one. A simple “thank you” is harmless, so if that’s what you feel you should do, then go for it.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Ivan: Just curious, do you thank the medical personnel who saved your life? They’re just doing their jobs, after all.

It’s silly to say that thanking someone for doing a tough job is pointless just because they’re getting paid. I like to thank anyone who makes my life easier janitors and wait staff, for example but this question was more about going up to someone buying shampoo or walking their dog and thanking them for doing their job rather than when they were on the actual job itself.

Also, if it was “for another discussion” I don’t think you would have said that.

Ivan's avatar


If some military member was directly responsible for saving my life, then I would thank them, as I said earlier. And if you want to go around thanking everyone, then that’s your decision.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Maybe I’m mistaken here, present or former members of the military feel free to correct me but don’t military personnel take an oath to serve, where they are needed? Which, in my understanding, means in combat zones as well as behind a desk in peacetime? That indicates to me a seriously above and beyond level of dedication. I thank servers who do a good job, that’s just polite, but the waitress didn’t take an oath to go into a live fire zone.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Ivan: You are correct. I can thank whomever I so choose for making my life easier. It was in very poor form for you to come into a thread filled with current and former members of the military and in some cases, the family of military members and say it is unnecessary to show gratitude to the people who as my dear sweet mum @JilltheTooth said took an oath to go into a live fire zone. You’re right, there is no need for us to thank them. There isn’t any need for people to join the military either.

Ivan's avatar


I have taken great care to phrase my opinions in a way such that they would not offend. In fact, the only person who has been rude to anyone in this thread has been you.

If you feel as though military members are, by default, deserving of praise, then praise them. It’s of no bother to me. If you feel as though my challenge to this opinion is offensive, then so be it. Surely, people will find ways to take offense to anything.

“There isn’t any need for people to join the military…”

Well, we certainly agree there.

Trillian's avatar

Oath of enlistment follows:
I,____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. I swear (or affirm) that I am fully aware and fully understand the conditions under which I am enlisting.
Going wherever is not directly in the oath, but standing ready to go anywhere we are called at 48 hours notice is in the contract, and if you fail your sea-bag inspection it can go badly for you.
Readiness is part of your C status and that includes having all contingencies covered head of time so that you can’t say at the last minute; “I can’t go, I’m a single mom and I have no one to take care of my kids.”
As I told you earlier, @KatawaGrey it is a pretty thankless job. When we get called up it is generally in response to a crisis. We cover Humanitrian efforts that never get much press, and that’s fine. We rescued a bunch of Kurds from Iran that were in danger from Saddam Hussein, and we built two mosques for them while they were waiting for individuals from the US to sponsor them. Active duty females had to wear our sleeves rolled down to avoid offending them. They didn’t thank us, they caused a fuss, rioted and destroyed the housing facilities we provided them.
We were also called to try to rescue any survivors of a civilian plane crash. The local Governor used it as a photo op. A couple special forces teams were called in as well. The country of the originating plane that crashed, in addition to not thanking any of us, called us names and accused us of trying to keep them from having their dead back.
As I said, it’s generally thankless, so when someone says “Thank you” I take it as genuine and appreciate the sentiment. I don’t expect thanks, I learned that long ago, but common courtesy and civility are much appreciated.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Trillian: It seems to me that those people who have thankless jobs deserve thanks the most.

Ivan's avatar

By all means, if people in the military are doing things worthy of thanks, then I will thank them. This question is about thanking someone simply for wearing the uniform. For all you know, that person could be a terrible soldier who has never helped anyone in his life.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
gtreyger's avatar

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’

gtreyger's avatar

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

-William Shakespeare

gtreyger's avatar

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

-Father Denis O’Brian – U.S. Marine Corps

jerv's avatar

I don’t consider it rude if somebody thanks me for my service, but I do get annoyed by the hero worshipers. I am a regular guy who just happens to have collected a few paychecks from Uncle Sam to go play around a bit in the Persian Gulf. Save the worship for guys like Salvatore Giunta

KatawaGrey's avatar

@jerv: I actually got to shake this man’s hand. I was extremely honored.

tankerbabe19k's avatar

I currently have 3 members of my family proudly serving our Country. I have been thanking our service members every time I see one either in uniform or on post. From what they tell me they really do appreciate the comments. It’s a sad day when we can’t thank our service members for providing for our freedom. Thank you to all of you and for what you do every day.

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