Today is Veterans’ Day.
Sometimes the meaning of these days of recognition get confused. Veterans’ Day – today – we salute all who have served: both during war and peace time – those who are still living. Memorial Day is reserved for those died. (Source: http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetday_faq.asp)
Today is a great day to say “thank you” to anyone who has served. Memorial Day is a day of respect and reflection for our war dead. A day of somber remembrance.
So why do we recognize someone who “volunteers” to go into the military? Ah – good question. Because these folks “volunteer,” we don’t have a draft. If for no other reason than that, thank you!
What exactly do these folks “volunteer” for? Well, for the past decade or so, they have volunteered to get shot at, driver over IEDs, live in places where the temperature can hit 135 degrees; or they can live in sub-zero temps in other places. They have volunteered to miss out on a “normal” work schedule. They have volunteered to go through basic training, to leave the comforts of their home, and to do something for the greater good.
What’s the best way to say thanks? An awesome question. And from my military spouse and military mom point of view, I’ll throw in my two cents on “How to thank a vet on Veterans’ Day:”
Keep them in your prayers.
Keep their family in your prayers.
Support their families.
We can also quit the fighting, bickering and name-calling. We can stop all the hatred brought on by this election. We can quit ending friendships and severing family ties because of this election. We can learn to step back and try to see someone else’s point of view. We can appreciate that we all have freedom of speech, whether we like someone’s opinion or not. We can look to make our own communities better.
I am trying to put myself in the shoes (ok, boots) of our current men and women in service, especially those deployed. They are already stressed being away from home. They have enough to worry about. And then they see images of rioting and violence here at home? Or they get a few minutes to check their social media to see the hate and arguments spewing from both sides of the political aisle?
We cry and moan about things like our cable going out, and yet many of our service members are living in overcrowded tents with zero privacy. They work 12-14 hours a day – or more – six to seven days a week. On some bases, they walk 1-2 miles just to shower in old showers that haven’t been updated in years. Not to mention, they live with the day-to-day stress of enemy action.
Consider what these men and women go through during their day. How do you think they are feeling about what is currently going on in our country? Are they feeling their sacrifice is for naught?
I think about families like mine that for the past decade or more have dealt with separation due to deployments, training schools and TDYs (temporary duty assignments). Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, school events, graduations, births of children – all missed. We keep asking the service members and their families to sacrifice more. And they do – oft times without complaining. They understand that when they volunteered, a lot would be asked of them.
This morning while on social media, I read a comment written by a Vietnam Vet. He was regretting his service because of the way people are acting. That broke my heart. I understand where he’s coming from. Service members are feeling abandoned by the VA, by the government and now, by the people for which they swore to uphold the Constitution. They see hatred amongst those whom they promised to protect from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Out of everything our military members have seen during their time of service, I’m sure the one thing they probably didn’t expect to see was their country unraveling at the seams.
While it is great that restaurants offer a free meal to our Veterans; that they can get a discount at the store; that throughout the day they will get a nod and a thank you, I think we can do more for these brave and dedicated men and women.
We can stop fighting and bickering.
It’s fine and well to give them a day of recognition, but how about instead, we give them the assurance that we, the people, are worth fighting for.
Happy Veterans’ Day – and thank you. We owe you a debt of gratitude for your sacrifice and service.
© Lynne Cobb