Dear Imprudence — Strictly Speaking of Protocol

I think we can make this short and sweet, so let’s jump right in, shall we?

Miss Manners fields a Veterans’ Day Special from Every Military Person, Everywhere!

We members of the military would be honored if you could address military funeral etiquette for Veterans Day.

Naturally, I jest, but I do take minor exception to members of a group claiming to speak on behalf of an entire group. So, thank you, letter-writer, or representative group of military doodz.

Moving on.

For those do not know: It is not necessary for you to stand to receive the U.S. flag. We expect that you are in distress with the loss of your family member.

We are saluting our fellow service member for the last time after we give you the flag. We do not expect you to return our salute.

I’ll cut to the quick here. I hate it when military people talk down to civilians as if they can not possibly understand simple things, like funeral service protocol. But, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here, because even as a veteran myself, sometimes I get a little confused on who expects me to salute when, etc.

Thanks for clearing that point up, if not in a slightly condescending manner.

We may be silent when you thank us. We are being silent as our fellow service member is now forever silent. Do not think we are rude for our silence; it is out of respect to our fellow service member.

We are not at the graveside of a fellow service member for you to thank us. It is a duty to serve this country that we have accepted. Just as your loved one did at sometime during their lifetime.

That’s great. Thank you for trudging yourselves out there. Hope it wasn’t too inconvenient. I happen to know that funeral detail comes with some pretty good perks and recognition along with the hard work. I imagine it is too much for this letter writer to imagine that along with being bereaved, this loved one probably gave quite a bit in service to the country as well. Just because ou didn’t put on a uniform doesn’t mean that sacrifices weren’t made, that life goals and dreams weren’t put on hold, and hours, days, months, or longer weren’t spent waiting for calls that wouldn’t come until that last one finally did. The loved one of a deceased service member deserves a little recognition and respect for the job they did in support of that service member, and most people on a funeral detail know this and can be respectful of this without sending out such a presumptuous letter.

I think that Miss Manners handled it perfectly:

GENTLE READER — Indeed, Miss Manners is grateful to be of help in this small way. She only adds that she is sure that your understanding of the emotional state of the bereaved means that you would not take amiss any such spontaneous, although unnecessary, gestures of gratitude.

By 21 November, 2010.    Dear Imprudence, intersectionality