My Sunday column was originally about 11 inches longer than the published form. One of the first things that went in editing it down was my parenthetical digressions, which are sometimes my favorite parts — even though they frequently have NOTHING to do with my point.

An example would be the one in the original second paragraph of the column, to wit:

    You did? Are you sure? I just ask because, as a member of the U.S.
economy (Can you be a “member of the economy?” I don’t see why not,
since everybody these days refers to uniformed military personnel as
“members of the military,” as though the Army were the Kiwanis Club or
something), I’ve got to tell you that I’m feeling a little

It’s a little difficult for me to explain why, but this is a pet peeve of mine. I hate hearing of military personnel referred to as "members of the military." It’s like calling soldier, sailors or marines fingers or toes (or some even less noble appendage), or comparing them to participants in some private club, which to me seems to denigrate their service in some undefinable way.

Those of you old enough to have a sense of perspective will realize that this is a fairly recent construction. I first started hearing it regularly in the 90s, maybe just after the Gulf War. It’s basically yet another awkward attempt to be "gender-inclusive." You tend to hear it as a replacement for the traditional "servicemen." Why we can’t say "servicemen and -women" when we mean to include both, I don’t know.

One thought on “‘Member’-ship

  1. Lee Muller

    You’re the editor, you control the jargon; eliminate “member of the military” from news, opinion and editorial writing. Force the use of proper terms, the more exact and accurate, the better.


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