Miss Manners

Thursday, November 11, 2010; 12:00 AM

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- We members of the military would be honored if you could address military funeral etiquette for Veterans Day.

For those do not know: It is not necessary for you to stand to receive the U.S. flag. We expect that you are in distress with the loss of your family member.

We are saluting our fellow service member for the last time after we give you the flag. We do not expect you to return our salute.

We may be silent when you thank us. We are being silent as our fellow service member is now forever silent. Do not think we are rude for our silence; it is out of respect to our fellow service member.

We are not at the graveside of a fellow service member for you to thank us. It is a duty to serve this country that we have accepted. Just as your loved one did at sometime during their lifetime.

GENTLE READER -- Indeed, Miss Manners is grateful to be of help in this small way. She only adds that she is sure that your understanding of the emotional state of the bereaved means that you would not take amiss any such spontaneous, although unnecessary, gestures of gratitude.

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- What is the proper way to ask someone why they have prosthetic limbs?

GENTLE READER -- As that person's new doctor, you can ask outright. If Miss Manners is mistaken and you are not that person's doctor, you have no business asking.

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- My co-workers and I have been having a debate over this incident: Our co-worker Jake brought in a delicious cake made by his wife to celebrate the birthday of another co-worker. It is customary in our of?ce for the person whose birthday was most recent to bring in the cake for the next birthday.

Generally, not all the cake is eaten, and the rest will be eaten as leftovers in the coming days. However, this time, when the next day came, the leftover cake was gone.

Upon asking around, we learned that Jake had taken the remaining cake home with him. He felt as though this was appropriate and allowable since he is the one who brought it; but many co-workers felt as though once you bring cake to a party, the cake is no longer "yours." Can you please help settle this hotly contested etiquette debate?

Let us also note that the dish needed to be washed, and only three pieces of cake remained at the conclusion of the day when everyone had left.

GENTLE READER -- What sort of work are you folks supposed to be doing? Is fighting over the crumbs a productive use of your time?

Or Miss Manners' time, for that matter, however little else she still has to do toward saving the world for civilization.

But perhaps she could save Jake.

His wife baked the cake and could have made another to eat at home, so let us presume it was not gluttony that motivated him. But she told him to bring back the dish.

In any case, people who celebrate one another's birthdays ought to be on warm enough terms to cut such friends a bit of slack. If not, you can all still get back to work.

If you would like a copy of Miss Manners' newsletters, "On Cellular Phone Courtesy," ''The Etiquette of Proper Eating" or "Proper Wedding Planning," please send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 (per newsletter) to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wicliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.

Copyright 2010 by Judith Martin; Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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