“Thanks for your service.”

I’ve said this on occasion to soldiers in uniform that have crossed my path, and most of them seemed to appreciate it.

But I just found out that some veterans actually hate to hear those words, particularly on Memorial Day. Hearing the words, “thanks for your service,” conjures memories of fallen comrades.

In some cases, even saying, “Happy Memorial Day” to a veteran can strike a painful nerve. “It’s not happy,” said Rene Kicklighter, 37, who retired from the Army National Guard. “It’s somber. I try to flip the lens on the conversation a bit and gently remind them what it’s really about.”

Along these lines, a handshake is a friendly greeting that’s meant to be welcoming. The problem is, as this doctor reminds us, shaking hands is an effective way of transmitting germs, so he’s started a “hand-shake free zone” in his hospital.

We intend something positive and it ends up as a negative.

As hard as it is for those of us who want to express our appreciation, sometimes saying nothing is the highest form of respect. A nod to a stranger who has served, or a hand on the shoulder of a friend might be the best way to convey the message on this solemn, sacred day.

To those we’ve lost in the service of our country, I respectfully offer an homage with this moment of silence.

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