Our Voice: Please say thank you to men, women who serve this Memorial Day

Only 1 percent of the population serves in the military, but nearly all the population takes the day off school or work to celebrate Memorial Day -- with the exception, ironically, of the 1 percent.

That's a generalization -- but generally speaking, we can be an ungrateful and ungracious lot.

We often fail to even think of others, let alone express our gratitude. Spend at least part of this weekend thinking of those who have lost their lives in service to our nation, and let others know that you're grateful for their sacrifices.

In the past few years, we have had one thing reaffirmed to us every week. Despite our society's reluctance to show gratitude, people like to hear the words "thank you" -- even if we don't say it as often as we should.

Our Thankful Thursday edition has been well received by writers and readers.

At work, we even look forward to Wednesdays now because it's the day we put the Thursday pages together.

We like hearing how someone paid for another's meal or went out of their way to help a stranded motorist.

It warms our hearts when the person on the receiving end of the kindness recognizes someone else's effort.

So today we're encouraging you to serve a turkey at the family barbecue on Memorial Day. (Not really). But we are encouraging each of us to make tomorrow a Day of Thanksgiving.

It's a two-step process.

The first step is to recognize the sacrifice of those around us. The second step is to give voice to the gratitude we feel.

There are veterans in your life: a co-worker, a neighbor, a relative. Call him or her today or tomorrow and say thanks.

You also know someone serving in the military. A thank you is in order there, too.

If you want to extend your gratitude beyond your circle of acquaintances, you can go to tinyurl.com/WhiteHouse-USO and send messages to our active troops through the USO.

And all of these people, living or dead, have family members.

Each stint of service has been a sacrifice by the whole family. Family members deserve our gratitude as well.

In the case of the deceased, we can't imagine how their families feel on a day like Monday. We're sure it's difficult every day, but may be worse on holidays.

Maybe your plans include visiting the cemetery and flying your flag. Don't let us talk you out of that.

Maybe you're planning to spend time with family and friends -- also not a bad idea.

But among your other traditions, please say thank you.

This Memorial Day, let's make saying thanks the new normal, instead of a word we seldom use or hear.

Whether it's a phone call, a written note, a handshake or a text, let's recognize and express our gratitude for those who serve.