Military Mama: To applaud or not to applaud

 By Jade Stone

iwo-jima-1.jpgIf you have a Facebook account, you know how easy it is to be sucked into reading the news feeds of your friends and family members, as well as the random individual you barely know now but vaguely remember sitting next to in 3rd grade and felt obligated to accept the friend request any way.

Well, I am no different.

Once in a while I catch myself reading the random facts about other people’s lives. However, something caught me off guard this past week. I realized I was reading a negative post about our military and then after a second look, I realized that it came from a fellow educator.

His comment was: “I think that applauding the military passengers on a civilian flight is a little silly”. And worse yet, this individual’s friends agreed and went on to discuss the negative “crimes” that select members of our military have committed against others and therefore applauding simply condones that sort of behavior. Stunned… I suppose that there are a few members who do not deserve to wear the uniform, certainly the 4 star general that was recently dismissed for conduct unbecoming of a soldier is one of them. However, I don’t think that is the point or the message conveyed by civilians when they applaud service members on a plane. 

I believe that applause is the simplest, easiest way to convey the message of “thanks” to the soldiers who represent the idea of sacrifice and commitment to something greater than themselves.

When the soldiers came home from Vietnam, they were treated horribly, spat upon and called baby killers by civilians. Ironically, those soldiers were fighting so that the very individuals who hurled insults at them had the freedom to do so. In light of that fact, many people may be trying to make up for not thanking the Vietnam veterans in the first place and are committed to not allowing our Iraq veterans to endure feeling as though they had sacrificed everything for a country who hated them.

Furthermore, Civilians are not necessarily applauding those specific soldiers for things they have done, but rather all soldiers for the vigilance and unwavering bravery in an ever changing time of conflict. They don’t know if those soldiers are returning from a deployment, coming home for R&R, or are serving as escorts for a fallen soldier and are guiding that soul home with the honor and dignity only a true soldier can understand, never leaving his or her side until they reach their final destination. 

That’s what I think, but I passed the comment on to another friend who is serving in Afghanistan now. The following are his remarks:

“It really shows how small his world is. I would imagine that he has never been to a third world country, has never been thirsty without a water fountain, faucet or refrigerator with bottled water nearby. We are not over here for him. We are over here for our children and our families’ children. We are here for each other so we can all come home together. We are here to make sure there is never a suicide vest at your school, and that car bombs are not a daily threat at the mall.

“I personally get embarrassed when I have to walk through the airport and have people applaud me. I prefer to be the quiet professional. I think he is embarrassed that he has nothing to show for his life and that to show support to the military lets him see how little he has sacrificed for his country. We appreciate the gratitude when it’s expressed. In short, I think he is silly. It just goes to show how simple his world view is, which is sad, considering he is educating our children”.

He makes a great point. While we may or may not agree with war, our soldiers carry out the orders given without question because it’s the way it has to be. While no one wants to lose a single life to war, these brave individuals who make up only 1% of our nation’s population signed up freely, willing to sacrifice everything for the greater good. And quite frankly, without people willing to do just that, we wouldn’t have a military, and worse yet, we would no longer be the America that so many of us love and call home, and our first language would certainly not be English but rather the language of the first country to come along and decide to take over.

There would be no one to stop them. So the next time you are in a place where you find those around you applauding and you are faced with the decision on whether or not to follow suit, think about the family that soldier left behind to do a job you would not, so that you may fly freely about the country, eat and drink anything you choose as you see fit, and go wherever you wish without fear of suicide or car bombers. Then decide: do they deserve a simple thank you?

Special note from Jade: A tremendous thank you goes out to LTC Lutsky and his soldiers who are currently serving in a faraway place taking care of business. My heart goes out to you and your families. I pray for your safe return every day. Thank you for allowing me to use your comment. Please know your words do not fall on deaf ears!

k-and-j-heads1thumbnail.jpgJade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at akajadestone [AT] yahoo [DOT] com. To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.


  1. This brought me to tears. I find it horrifying that there are people living in this country who are callous and short-sighted enough to even THINK that our soldiers don’t deserve a simple ‘thank you’. I agree with your friend, that there is a clear disconnect between that person and the reality of our world right now – the soldiers “over there” are not faceless, nameless uniformed robots – they are someone’s husband or someone’s daughter or someone’s PARENT.

    I always enjoy your posts as I am a fellow military brat. And my family has been personally invested in the current situation in the Middle East. My Mom was deployed for 12 months in 2006, and my brother was deployed in 2007. My brother didn’t come home. He was KIA in Iraq on October 14, 2007. And it is a dagger to my heart to think that there are people in this country, enjoying (and taking for granted) freedoms for which our troops sometimes pay with their LIVES, who are selfishly irritated by a plane full of Americans applauding a uniformed soldier whether he’s headed over or headed home.

    There is no possible way that civilians could ever “repay” our military for what they’ve done and what they’re doing. And, as your friend pointed out, most of them would never even ask or expect a “thank you”. But taking a 30-second break from our daily routine to simply applaud a soldier who has seen and experienced things that no one should ever see, is literally the LEAST we can do.

  2. Sarah and Ed, Thank you so much for your comments. I wish there were more people willing to stand up and make their thoughts about our country known. Sarah, I am horribly sorry for your loss. You know all too well the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make everyday and I thank you for your resilience. I keep thinking that if enough of us begin telling our stories that it will raise awareness to the lack of respect many citizens have in this country, eventually influencing a positive change for our nation…I know, I’m a a dreamer but it has to start somewhere. Thank you again for your thoughts!

  3. I was thinking as I started reading your post that I would rather just quietly approach the soldier and say “thank you” than applaud – for the sake of their own potential humility. Glad to see your friend supports that idea.

    Pinning the misbehavior of a handful of members of our military on the entire enlistment of all of the branches is ignorant. I have a girlfriend with three young children whose husband has been deployed twice, has had challenges now that he’s back at home, and continues to struggle with the possibility of another deployment. Those who throw out scorn should try living for a few years with their spouse half-way across the world, not knowing every day if they will get a call on Skype from their loved one or a knock at their door from a government official. They are definitely sacrificing in more ways than we can imagine, and they deserve our support.

  4. I am or should i say was a solider. My mind ain’t good nor is my spelling but I know that the greatest feeling in the word is to here the applause of people you don’t now clapping and telling you thank you for your service Because when your gone for 365 days and all you know is fight and kill its nice to know that the people at home really do care and that makes it worth doing again and again. and for the educator who has never been there and stood where me and my brother have stood and have had to do what we had to do. then you should sit quietly in a corner and keep your mouth shut and until you pick up a rifle and stand a post beside me and my brothers you will never ever no how much the applause means…thanks Brent

  5. Thanks for your postings, Sarah! It does help spread a positive word on what can be such a simple (albeit significant) method of displaying thanks. Your post makes me proud of how Dad and I raised you and how you are willing to share two very important skills — thanks and remember!

  6. My daughter wore Air Force Blue for 8 years. While she never served overseas, I was always moved by her willingness to serve. Anything we can do to thank our men and women in uniform is small compared to their sacrifice. I cannot understand those who would judge all by the actions of a few. I will stand and I will applaud when a uniformed service person comes on or off a plane. I will thank them for their service if I have the privilege of meeting them in person. I will always say thanks in any way I can!

  7. Great blog! Hopefully, one day this particular individual (and others with the same viewpoints) will realize that all the liberties that they enjoy in this country are due to the men and women who courageously protect and preserve our inalienable rights stateside and overseas. One shouldn’t complain about something until you have “walked the walk.”

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