"My children are in the service"

Sun Aug 12 02:41:56 UTC 2001

To all:

> Maybe I don't understand the question, but for as long as I can remember
> "in the service" used without any modifier means "in the Armed Forces",
> I don't know of a difference between African-American and
> any-other-American usage here.
> "My children are in the service" is analogous to "my children are in
> college": it implies a certain age range for the children; it implies that
> they are "grown up". Failure to specify which branch of the service is
> analogous to failure to specify which college: it seems quite natural to
> me. For many of us, "the service" denotes a certain conventional phase of
> man's life (or woman's life nowadays): after high school, natural choices
> include "college" and "the service". During a significant part of the late
> 20th century in the US, there were no other likely choices for a healthy
> young man.

When I was growing up, eons and eons ago, people would refer to their
children or their close relatives as being "in the service" if they were in
any branch of the armed forces, although the Army was where they usually
were.  Nowadays, I hear, from all races, "in the military" for the same
thing.  I wonder when the "substituttion" started being made?
Anne Gilbert

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