November 11, 2015 is Veterans Day. What exactly does it mean to you?
If you’re in grammar school or high school, it’s a day off of school (Yippie!). If you’re a government or bank employee, it’s a day off of work (Yippie, again!). If your employer does not recognize the date with a paid day off, it may just be any other day of the week that you have to trudge to work, put your time in, and it’s one day closer to the week-end.
However, if you happen to be in the military, have ever served in the military, or had any loved ones serve in the military for the defense of our glorious country and way of life, it means much more than just another holiday. Rightfully so.
I grew up in one of the most turbulent decades in our nation’s recent history–the Sixties. The days of great music, “free love”, Abbie (“Don’t trust anyone over 30”) Hoffman, and of course, Vietnam protests. There were protest marches on just about any college campus every week–most peaceful, but some not. Many students burned their government issued draft cards in public display, mocking the government and our military. Back then, there was a deep-seeded hatred of the war, and very little respect for those who served and fought in Vietnam. They were considered murderers, butchers, and even baby killers by much of our nation’s young adults (let’s not forget “Hanoi” Jane Fonda). Many veterans returned home after their tour of duty in Vietnam, only to be scorned upon, rather than recognized as heroes for serving our country, fighting in the jungles of Vietnam against an enemy that most often couldn’t be seen, in a war that nobody wanted.
Thankfully, our great nation learned from the mistakes of Vietnam. We now honor and respect those men and women who have served and sacrificed, some with their lives, some with their limbs, and others who have suffered severe mental anguish from the horrors they’ve seen during their tour(s) of duty. We owe a great deal of respect to those who left their families to honor our country by serving in our military. Our way of life can no longer be taken for granted. We are reminded of that every day while watching the evening news, and hearing of terrorist attacks, suicide bombings and other maniacal plots to attack our nation and destroy our way of life. It is our military that allows us the freedom we all enjoy each and every day in America.
This year, we should all try to make Veterans Day much more meaningful than we have in the past. Go to a parade. Watch a special on tv with your kids. Talk to them about it, make them understand why they have the day off, or why you didn’t have to work today. Take them for a walk to your local town Memorial Park (just about every town has one). Read the words to them on the statues and monuments. If names are mentioned, have your family take turns reading those names. They’re not just any name–someone died for the honor of having their name etched in stone; for the honor of preserving our way of life. Thank a veteran personally, shake their hand or say thanks to them for the sacrifices they have endured to protect the liberties we so often take for granted. You may think it’s a small gesture or won’t mean much to you, but it will to that veteran. I’ve done it, and it feels good–real good.
Whatever you chose to do, please don’t chose to do nothing at all. One kind word or deed can make all the difference in the world to that special person who chose to make our country a safe place to live.
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