Announcer: For Veteran's Day, the president honored the men and women who have served our country. He thanked the military members for their service in a speech given at Arlington National Cemetery.
Meaning: The idiom "to serve a country" is used to describe someone who is enrolled in the military. The expression is used to emphasize the sacrifice that being a member of a military can take on those who have served. In the example above, the president is honoring military members who have served their country on Veteran's Day, a special day to commemorate those who have done military service. Normally, most individuals "serve" their own country, so this idiom is often used with a possessive adjective, as in the example ("our" instead of "a"). Here is another example:
Chris: I heard you're joining the navy after you graduate?
Tammy: Yep. I start next month.
Chris: Really? Are you doing it to help pay for college?
Tammy: Not really. I mean, that's certainly a benefit, but it's not my primary reason. Ever since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to give back, and serving my country seems like the best way to that.
Chris: That's cool.
Meaning: In this example, Tammy is joining the Navy. When Chris asks if she is doing it to help pay for college (there are programs that pay for US veterans' higher education), she says the she has wanted to give back to her community since she was a little girl, emphasizing that her service is primarily altruistic (doing something for others) rather than self-serving (receiving benefits in this case). @SBLA @OC @NELA @DTLA