|How they do it in the USA (Pic courtesy Daily Mail)|
You're queueing to get on your Virgin flight.
You're surrounded by the usual crew - bearded hipsters, sweet young things wearing headphones secured to all manner of electronic trickery, grey haired boomers and noisy kids.
An announcement is made - impossible to decipher because the airport PA makes everything sound like the auditory equivalent of shrdlu, the printers devil.
As a result of this announcement, sundry passengers, a mix of fit looking young males, and decrepit appearing grey headed types, go to the front of the queue, and board first.
Once aboard, another announcement is squeezed between the safety briefing and a promotion for on-board refreshments. This announcement asks you to show respect for the people who were advanced to the front of the queue because they are "veterans".
You're not sure whether you should stand and applaud (difficult unless you're in an aisle seat), or simply nod appreciatively.
Well that was what was suggested by the CEO of Virgin Airlines yesterday, with the apparent endorsement of the PM and Newscorp.
We hear that it is designed to show respect. Not for this "veteran". Embarrassment would be the likely outcome.
If my fellow travellers have to be asked to show me respect, I'd rather do without.
We hear it's all the go in the USA. Perhaps. After my visit there in July, I'd be reluctant to ape their practice. I saw too many veterans begging on the streets of NYC and Washington to suggest their "respect" is anything more than lip service.
The term "veteran" has been in use in this country for a relatively short time. Like so many other chunks of our mother tongue, it is an American import. We used to be called "returned soldiers".
I am perhaps a little cynical, but I reckon it has more to do with marketing. After all, it doesn't offer any actual benefit (upgrades/reduced fare) and it costs both the corporate sector and the government nothing.
Our new PM was a marketing guru, after all. Every time I see him make an announcement, I'm always expecting to hear "But wait, there's more.....".
Michael Pascoe sums it up pretty well.
The postscript is particularly enlightening -
P.S. It is a curious thing that the military skews right, given that it was a Labor government that provided leadership through our most threatened hours and Liberal prime ministers who betrayed our servicemen by sending them to Vietnam and Iraq on lies.