Etiquette: Say 'thank you' to every veteran you meet today

For the News-DemocratNovember 11, 2013 

Q. I recently became engaged. My future father-in-law is a retired Air Force officer. I am not certain where he served. He doesn't talk about it very much. What is the proper thing for me to do for him for Veteran's Day? I think we are taking him to a local parade if the weather is suitable.

A. How very thoughtful and respectful of you to ask. By all means, wish him a very Happy Veteran's Day and thank him for his service to our wonderful country. Do not be surprised, however, if he replies something like this: "Thank you, but I didn't do that much. I wasn't a hero or anything like that."

If that is the case, your reply can be: "Anyone who puts his or her life on the line every day to protect all of us, deserves a thank-you every day and a special thank-you today."

It is also certainly warranted for you to thank every veteran you meet at the parade or wherever. Whether you meet a veteran or an individual who is on active duty, shake hands and say "Thank-you for what you do every day to keep us safe."

Another sign of respect is displaying your American Flag, especially on Veteran's Day.

You could also wear red, white and blue to the parade and take a small American flag with you to wave. Call your other veteran relatives and friends you will not personally be able to spend time with, and extend a thank-you to them.

If you have a deceased member of your family or a dear friend who served our country, visit the gravesite to pay your respect.

Q. One of my girlfriends stopped by last week to drop off something for me, but when she backed out of the driveway, she happened to get a little crooked and she ran over one of my little outdoor night lights. She got all upset and wants to pay to have it repaired. I told her it wasn't a big deal because I've done it myself before. My husband will fix it. She said she is going to send me a check. What can I do if she sends it?

A. Hopefully your husband will repair the light, or already has, and you can call her to tell her again, that it was not a big problem, it is already fixed. And there is no need for her to send a check or be upset about it any longer. Then change the subject as quickly as possible. End the conversation perhaps with a request to set a date to go to lunch or coffee together soon.

If she mails a check to you, call her and tell her thank you, but you will be giving it back to her the next time you see her. Then set up a lunch or coffee date.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to

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