Congress Wants America to Thank Veterans in the Most Awkward Way Possible

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Members of the Colorado National Guard participate in the opening ceremonies for the Salute to Service game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Ray R. Casares)

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When "Thank you for your service" usually comes from a well-meaning civilian, veterans often fumble for an appropriate and respectful response. Saying "thank you" to a "thank you" seems awkward, and saying "you're welcome" feels a little pompous.

So imagine having to reply when someone says "thank you for our freedom," as if you're Captain America, personally dealing death to terrorists and various super villians.

No matter how awkward that might feel for veterans, two members of Congress seem to think that the highfalutin phrase should be the official way to thank vets and want to make it official.

Reps. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on Sept. 29 to replace "thank you for your service" with "thank you for our freedom," despite neither phrase having an official status of any kind in U.S. law or policy.

"As a Nation, we have an obligation to support the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who risk their lives to protect the freedom of the American people, and our allies," Bergman said in a press release that related a 70-year-old story that inspired him to actually introduce the idea when we all have better things we could be doing.

The U.S. military faces a number of high-profile problems. All branches are struggling to meet manning requirements, the U.S. Army is recommending food stamps to military families and Fort Hood is still an evolving tragedy -- just to name a few of the real issues Congress could be fixing.

Although likely unintentional, the language of the resolution is surprisingly self-aware, acknowledging congressional shortcomings in dealing with the actual problems faced by troops, veterans and their families, stating "for far too long, our Nation has fallen short in our obligation to our military."

Thanking the troops who are putting up with moldy barracks and jet fuel-flavored water while Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens them with nuclear weapons is where Congress decided to begin addressing its obligation. It is literally the least they could do.

"All gave some and many made the ultimate sacrifice," Correa said, paraphrasing legendary American Billy Ray Cyrus in Bergman's press release about the resolution.

The non-binding resolution was referred to the House Armed Services Committee the same day it was introduced. There, it will likely die a death as meaningless as its existence. Even if it were ever to pass, it would be a purely symbolic gesture. As a non-binding resolution, it can't be enforced.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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