Do we doubt locals thanked them for their service?
I’m not equating the two. They were wrong; glad we crushed them.
Only noting it’s likely they thought as much about such things as we do, which is to say not much. German citizens who believed their leaders, loved their country, watched their sons get on trains … they were patriotic, too. Worried and feared and grieved. Thanked them for their service. There’s something to be said, as well, for the ways all soldiers are used as literal cannon fodder for the deadly desires of rancid Reichs. It has in fact been said, and by good military men.
A young man who did time in the Army and is related to me by progeniture said once that if people wanted to thank veterans for their service, they could do things a little differently when said veterans need actual help.
Gratuitous expressions of gratitude are as vague and performative on Armistice Day as ‘we should get coffee’ is on any other.
The statement is like so many words we say — more for us than for the other.
They do nothing, but boy do we feel … whew! … better.
Maybe we ‘mean’ it, whatever that means. So why not find something of substance to say or even — and this is going to sound insane and possibly illegal — do.