Get off the 'veteran' crutchThursday, April 29, 2021
I am somewhat taken aback at the frequency with which the word veteran is used in local media as an acclamation. It is so often used in reference to experienced professional people who have reached relatively senior age and continue to give valuable service in their chosen field to this country. But it is a word I find to be rather unflattering and unkind.
I am sure many people whom it is used to describe are equally unflattered.
With such a considerable vast range of words in the beautiful English language, which is graced with such a vast amount of mind-blowing and titillating metaphors and superlatives, why have our writers continuously restricted themselves to small vocabularies? Why use veteran, so often?
The word veteran is defined as an old, retired soldier. I would think what the creator of this word was depicting is a tired, experienced, spent, battle-worn individual. No achievement is implied. And, yet, we constantly use it to describe our achievers, heroes and heroines, legends, and role models.
Most recently the use of the word veteran again drew my attention, as many reports in the press, both print and electronic, spoke to the regrettable passing of journalist extraordinaire Michael Sharpe, referring to him as a veteran journalist. With there being so many other glorifying words that could have been used; words which would readily project the quality and esteem in which he is held by so many people in the society and his legacy, and I was irked all over again.
Why not the use of words such as astute, probing, thorough, legendary, fearless, extraordinary; so many other words are at the disposal of writers. Why hold back? Why not glorify him to the fullest?
This word veteran has also been frequently used in reference to our cricket greats, such as the legendary Chris Gayle or Courtney Walsh — one of the finest and most intelligent bowlers the world has seen. It has also been frequently used in reference to our senior politicians who continue to give their invaluable service to the country. Track and field greats Veronica Campbell Brown and Asafa Powell have not been spared the veteran tag. A most unflattering stigma.
The American media is often accused of overzealousness for the somewhat frantic manner in which they applaud the achievements of people. I have never heard them use the word veteran in reference to their seniors. Clearly, they are aware of the psychological properties that make the use of the word inappropriate, or maybe it's just the psyche of that nation. We can learn a lot from them in this regard. Let's truly glorify our achievers.
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