"My children are in the service"

Sun Aug 12 17:30:54 UTC 2001


> An interesting observation. I hear both commonly now and I heard both
> commonly 30+ years ago IIRC, but I do think "in the military" has been
> supplanting "in the service" to some extent. [Google search shows "my
> son/daughter is in the military" 20 times, "my son/daughter is in the
> service" 6 times, "my son/daughter is in the Army" 46 times, BTW.]
> I think maybe the change is in the environment more than in the language.
> It seems to me that a person who is drafted or who enlists for a short
> hitch to "fulfill his obligation" is more likely to be referred to as "in
> the service", while a career soldier/sailor/airman/etc. is more likely to
> be referred to as "in the military" -- although I think either phrase can
> be applied to either case. At the time of the Vietnam war (or of WW II)
> relatively few of the many US servicemen were contemplating an extended
> military career; now, with no draft and no large war, I think a higher
> proportion are in the Armed Forces by "free choice", many of them with
> long-term military career prospects.

That could well be.  When I was growing up, people "in the servide" were
almost always draftees doing a "hitch".  The "military" wasn't their first
career choice, although some made it so, for whatever reason.  Then Vietnam
came and the draft eventually ended.  And now that I think about it, it's
been wthin the last tne years or so(with a volunteer military firmly in
place), that I've been hearing the phrase "in the milliatry".  Where I
live(Seattle), "in the military" is the *only* expression you hear to refer
to people who are "serving".  Interestingly, there are any number of young
people who join "the military" in order to get money for college, among
other things.
Anne G

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