Sir/Ma'am?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by blackwing1, May 9, 2010.

  1. blackwing1

    blackwing1 New Member

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    I'm currently a freshman and I found out through my ALO that there's going to be a presentation from the AFA at our school tomorrow. I was wondering if I should address the presenters as sir or ma'am and integrate that into my speech. However, I live in California, where everything's fairly casual, and because of this, I have very little experience in using sir/ma'am in my sentences. So, should I say it and risk sounding like my responses are "canned", or not do it and just be formal otherwise?

    Thanks for your responses.
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Look: This is your first post, and I welcome you here. I hope you spend a lot of time here learning about the air force academy and the application process if you truly are interested in it. But, because you don't know who I am, I want to give you a heads up. NOTHING I say is ever meant to degrade any poster. It's never meant to cut down on you. So NEVER take what I say as personal. It's just that most people here already know me, and they know how to take my posts.

    Ok, having said that, here's my "opinion". I believe in "RESPECT". I believe that you should say "Yes Sir" and "Yes Ma'am", etc... to YOUR PARENTS; to YOUR TEACHERS; and to other adults in positions of authority and/or honor. That includes a presenter at your school. Whether it's a counselor or admissions representative from your state university or Harvard; you should say "Yes Ma'am and No Sir". Whether it's a presenter for one of the service academies; you should say "Yes Ma'am and No Sir". Whether it's your state representative or a retired astronaut; you should say "Yes Ma'am and No Sir".

    Do NOT give me this story about you're from California and things are more "Casual". Like, like, do you know what I mean. Sorry, but that is simply "LAZY and Disrespectful". It's ok to speak that way to your friends. No problem. But you should NEVER speak that way to your parents, teachers, counselors, or other individuals of authority or honor. When you invite someone to speak at your school, they are called the "Guest of Honor". There's a reason for that.

    Now, again, this is not personal and I'm not dogging you. But realize that you're preparing to possibly apply to the air force academy. An institution where men and woman are preparing for the possibility of RISKING THEIR LIVES, EVERY DAY, for your rights. I believe that definitely affords them a place of HONOR. Also, if you get the Privilege and Honor to someday be called a cadet, you can NOT use the excuse of: "I'm from California, that's why I didn't say Sir/Ma'am to you".

    So, turn over a new leaf today. Recognize that when someone has earned and deserves respect, they deserve to be addressed as "Sir and Ma'am". This includes your parents and teachers. I have people who work FOR ME, and it is not uncommon to say "yes sir" or "yes ma'am" to them. Even though they are subordinate to me. That's because I respect them. If you don't respect your parents, teachers, guests of honor, etc... then I guess you shouldn't address them as Sir or Ma'am. That's up to you. Anyway; I don't know you, and you don't know me. This post is NOT PERSONAL in any way at all. Don't take it personal. When i post, I not only post to your direct question, but to all the other people who may have a similar question as yours and might be thinking; "Well, what if......". Hope that helps you understand my opinion, and more importantly WHY I present my opinion a certain way.

    Definitely hope you hang around and learn more about the academy. If you are truly interested in the academy, you have definitely started off on the right foot in finding this forum. Many here will tell you how much easier it makes the application process. And most at least know sort of what they're getting into. The vast majority of applicants have never visited a forum or have any idea what they are getting into. Best of luck to you. Mike....
     
  3. Dadandgrad

    Dadandgrad Parent

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    I second Christcorp's comments. It's always better to be overdressed than underdressed and you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!
     
  4. HNeedle

    HNeedle Member

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    yup, none of this "I'm from California" crap. Where i'm from, doesnt matter who they are, it's always sir and ma'am
     
  5. goldfarb1

    goldfarb1 Candidate

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    Couldn't agree more. When in doubt, dress up. Better to be the one in a suit in a roomfull of people wearing polos than in raggy clothes in a roomfull of people in suits.

    And with regards to addressing people ma'am and sir... I live in GA so its a given. Don't even think twice. Just comes natural. But I think nowadays it really is a cultural thing. Depends on region and where/how you were raised. I lived in the north for my early years, and had to adapt to the "southern hospitality." I would say to the OP don't get worked up over the fact that you don't use them now. Just slowly start adapting to the habit. Very good habit to have whether you go military or not.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2010
  6. Suzie

    Suzie Member

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    I too love "yes ma'am and no sir".......but growing up in Wisconsin, it just wasn't there....now I live in the south and it's the norm here. My boys have learned this because of where we live.....so I do understand what Blackwing1 is saying........

    My advice to Blackwing1 start using "yes ma'am and no sir", you will get used to saying it. It is very polite and respectful and you will definitely have one up on the California crowd!!:thumb:...It won't sound canned to others maybe you the first couple times, but you will be fine!!

    Good Luck,
    Suzie
     
  7. RascalFlatts5858

    RascalFlatts5858 Candidate

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    I disagree, it depends on the region. I too am from Wisconsin as Suzie was and it isn't a common practice. Sure I use it when I'm talking to the referee at my game or a similar situation but its not used commonly with teachers, parents, etc. However I still respect my parents and teachers and am not being lazy or disrespectful by not using sir/ma'am. I'd agree with the posters above though and slowly adapt to the habit, especially if you are gearing towards being in the military. If it sounds right I use it, if not I don't want to come off unnatural and won't.
     
  8. packermatt7

    packermatt7 USAFA Cadet

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    Once you are in the military, it doesn't matter where you are from, it's always sir/ma'am. So if you want to go to USAFA, you should get in the habit. Your ALO will also be impressed.
     
  9. CadCandMateus

    CadCandMateus Recent Grad

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    heh.. that was my philosophy too rascal. Then i left highschool. Now even the pizza man is sir, the librarian back home is ma'am.. my highschool counselor is ma'am, etc. Mostly because i represent the military, usafa, air force, family, everywhere i go and show respect to all.


    (Enough tootin my own horn.. just trying to be like HNeedle!)

    One team one fight
     
  10. mom14

    mom14 Member

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    We lived in Mississippi when my son was in first through third grades. He learned to use "yes ma'am" and "no sir" quite fluently. We moved to Illinois the summer before fourth grade and no one here used those terms. He got in trouble with the teacher one day and was responding "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am". The teacher told me later that it was all she could do to keep from laughing, it was "so cute". Needless to say, he soon changed his habits and began responding with "yes" and "no" minus the "ma'am" and "sir". It's just not done that way here. I think when he is in the military it will be no problem to begin using that form again.
     
  11. blackwing1

    blackwing1 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I'll work on it.
     
  12. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Rascal. You may believe that the use of Ma'am and Sir is regional, but it's not. You yourself said you use it when speaking to a referee or similar situation. The usu of Sir and Ma'am is totally a matter of choice and conscience. In the military, there is no "Region". On Wall Street, Corporate Businesses, Court Rooms, Church, and even most employers; there is no "Region". Yet, Sir/Ma'am are quite common forms of greetings and responses. We are all products of our environment. Because of that, we believe in what is right and wrong based on how our parents have taught us and by what is considered formal around us.

    Did I always say Sir or Ma'am to my parents? No. Did my children always say Sir or Ma'am to me or their mom? No. But there is a time for every purpose under heaven. If I was disciplined for something, that WAS the time to say Sir/Ma'am. When my company's CEO came to visit, that was a time to say Sir/Ma'am. When I met my wife's parents for the first time, that was a time to say Sir/Ma'am. If I meet a stranger who has come for some sort of ceremony, briefing, lecture, etc...; that is a time to say Sir/Ma'am.

    Point is, I never tell a person, except for my children when they were younger, if they are right or wrong. That is up to them to figure out. But I will tell you that saying Sir/Ma'am is definitely not regional. I admit that between modern television, music, and the "ME" (Individuality) generation of thinking, Sir/Ma'am are not used as commonly as they use to be. That doesn't mean that it is correct. And probably one of the main reasons Sir/Ma'am has survived so long in the military, is because the "ME" (Individuality) mentality is emphasized as being a contributor of the team, and not for individual success. Therefor, as a team, you realize that there are those that have authority over you, those who are subordinate to you, and those who are your peers. And as such, you show respect to those, just as you want respect shown to you. No one is entitled to respect. It isn't a right. It is something one earns. And if you choose to pursue the academy or military at any length, you will understand what I'm saying. Best of luck. Mike.....
     
  13. USAFMortensen

    USAFMortensen Member

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    Christcorp makes a good point, however maybe you haven't lived in California or the west coast. I lived all over the country and there is definitely a difference, Sir/Ma'am isn't used nearly as much on the coasts as they are in the south/midwest so I think region and different social norms play a part. Sir/Ma'am in the military is not an option however, if I were to call my SSgt a "Dude" or "Bro" my a$$ would be pulling weeds on a Saturday, but that is the military and the Academy is no different.
     
  14. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    I was born and raised in the South as were my children. I was taught to say "yes ma'am" or "no, sir" and no exceptions were allowed. I still say it to my parents and I am 50---it is especially expected when speaking to your elders. I taught my boys these same manners as soon as they could speak. It is just second nature to them. Good manners never go out of style.

    However, a teacher that they both had who was from West Virginia, but married to a Southern guy, said she did not want her sons to say "yes ma'am" or "no, sir" because it meant they were subservient to someone. I thought that was stupid back then and it's still stupid today. Her kids were ill-mannered boors overall and I still remember that one of them threw a girl's backup out in the street as the school bus approached so it was run over.
     
  15. bandit

    bandit Member

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    I was born and raised in California before moving to the South as an adult. I have truly come to appreciate Yes Sir/Ma'am.

    So while I do agree it is a regional thing. I don't think that means it isn't still the better thing to do.

    Instead of taking the easy route and saying "I'm from California and we just don't speak like that here." How about taking the high road and saying. "I'm going to be a leader instead of a follower and maybe if I start talking like that, others will follow."

    There are leaders in this world and there are followers. Which do you want to be?
     
  16. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    .....and in case you didn't know, backup is another word for backpack.:oops: Obviously the effects of my early-morning coffee have worn off.....the kid threw a girl's backpack under the bus.:redface:

    Wish the Edit button hung around longer!
     
  17. vampsoul

    vampsoul Candidate

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    It is not necessarily a regional thing; I think it is an atmosphere thing. I do not call my parents sir/ma'am at home, but when my father and I are at taekwondo, he is no longer my father. He is my superior, my classmate, sometimes my instructor. He is Sir. At school, some teachers appreciate the formal sign of respect. But I have had a few who have looked at me oddly after being addressed as Sir/Ma'am and asked that I not refer to them in that way (Makes them feel old, seems impersonal, ect.). Bottom line, it is an address that should be used as you would someone's first or last name. I would call my twenty year old cousin by his nickname. I would call my twenty year old assistant teacher Mr.___. Know your environment and act accordingly. When it comes to the military, I've learned that the Sir/Ma'am address is always the best option for a first impression. I even called a Sgt. that on my overnight at USMA during an MS class. He did not correct me until the end of the class, because he appreciated that I was trying to show him the proper respect.
     
  18. blackwing1

    blackwing1 New Member

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    From what you've all said, I've realized that it's probably not just the right way, but the only way. So I'll definitely be working on getting used to saying it during every chance I get. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question.
     
  19. Texas2013

    Texas2013 Member

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    Blackwing1,
    I just want to commend you on the way you have received all of the advice and opinions on this thread. You handled it exactly the right way. You listened, you learned and now you are going to act. Way to go and best of luck to you!
     
  20. js3486

    js3486 Parent

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    Another Satisfied customer on the forum!! Good Luck
     

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