DEAR ABBY: Recently I took a cue from my sister and her career Navy husband. They always make it a point to thank anyone they see in military uniform for his/her service and sacrifice.
I am somewhat shy by nature. But I am so thankful to these men and women who fight for our continued freedom that I stepped out of my comfort zone to verbalize my feelings and encourage those who cross my path.
Abby, the first and second thank-yous I offered did not go well. The first gentleman I spoke to gave me a scornful look and proceeded to tell me I should be thankful for all military personnel -- not just him -- and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
I felt 3 inches tall and very embarrassed, but I chalked it up to perhaps having said thanks the wrong way, so I tried again. This time I thanked a World War II veteran. I recognized him as a vet by the emblem on the bill of the cap he was wearing. His response was, "Didn't have a choice -- it was the draft or jail."
Maybe I'm not cut out for verbalizing my thankfulness, or maybe I'm doing it wrong. Now my shyness has taken over again. Should I silently offer a prayer of thanks instead? -- TWICE BITTEN IN WASHINGTON
DEAR TWICE BITTEN: The first person you spoke to may have lost some friends recently, which is why he spoke to you the way he did. Your response to the service member's statement should have been: "Of course you are right. And I am grateful. But you are here, which is why I'm expressing my thanks to you." Period.
As to the WWII vet who entered the service one jump ahead of the law -- give him marks for honesty in admitting his reason for entering the military was less than patriotic. But please don't stop offering thanks. What you experienced was some bad beginner's luck, but each time you express your gratitude, the odds will improve.