Every country has its customs for showing veterans appreciation. For instance, November 11 is a national holiday in France and Belgium. Canadians wear poppies to honor those who have served. In Great Britain, the British Royal Family honors veterans with two minutes of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—Remembrance Day. In the United States, we have many opportunities to show our deep gratitude and respect for the many sacrifices veterans make on our behalf and in the cause of freedom and justice.
How will you commemorate this important date?
1. Attend a Veterans Day Event
From the luminaries lighting graves at military cemeteries to charity runs, Americans have designated Veterans Day a time to honor those who have gone before and celebrate those who now serve.
Be sure to check your community calendar for parades and special events. Many businesses will be offering discounts to veterans: when we patronize them, we are endorsing their commitment with our dollars.
2. Show your Patriotic Pride
Veterans Day is a time to signal your love of country with flags. Be sure to point out to youngsters the symbolic importance of the flag’s colors and design. Red means courage and strength while the white symbolizes purity and blue is the color of justice. Explain to them the importance of the 13 stripes, each representing one of the original colonies and of the 50 stars in the union.
Hang a flag at home. Place flags at headstones in national cemeteries. Signal to all who can see that we are a nation indivisible.
3. Support Veterans’ Causes
Veterans carry visible and invisible wounds. We are fortunate that so many military and veterans organizations attend to the needs of veterans after they have left active service. These groups rely on donor generosity to sustain programs addressing issues such as veteran homelessness, PTSD, and suicidal ideation..
At a more personal level, consider volunteering at a local shelter, creating a care package for active military overseas, or just preparing a meal for that military service family down the street.
4. Educate Your Children to Say Thank You
Children love stories and telling tales of the sacrifices of earlier generations are important for them to know. Show them photos. Encourage their questions. Take them to a special event honoring veterans. Invite them to send a card or letter to active military personnel. Help them create ways they can express their sincere appreciation to those who serve us so well.
And let them know that they also serve by doing all they can to make their community and the lives of those around them better.
5. Make Every Day Veterans Day
After all, our freedoms have been dearly won and one day a year seems hardly adequate. Each individual who has served leaves loved ones and familiar ground behind. The 2.8 million military families have also made tremendous sacrifices that ultimately ensure our safety, protect our interests, and keep the world a safer place. While their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters and brothers serve, they deserve our wholehearted support and goodwill. Lest we forget…