Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Honoring Our Veterans

                    Our families, communities, and nation are strengthened when we honor the men and women who stand between our homeland and the enemy.  In order for the rising generation to understand the importance of honoring our veterans, we must teach them by word as well as by example.  November 11, once known as Armistice Day and now known as Veterans Day, is a perfect opportunity to teach this important action to our children and grandchildren.

                    One of the concepts that we can teach the rising generation is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Memorial Day is the day that is set apart to honor all American military personnel who were killed in battle or died as a result of wounds sustained from combat.  We also honor our departed loved ones on Memorial Day, but the original reason for this special day was to honor those who died as a result of war. 

Veterans Day, on the other hand, is a day set apart to honor all American veterans, those who died to protect us as well as those who served and survived.  Veterans Day is a wonderful day to thank any and all living veterans for their dedicated and loyal service to our country.  It is also fitting on this day to we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in our behalf.

The American Legion is an organization that consists of wartime veterans; therefore they know the importance of showing support for our military both during and after their service.  One of the primary missions of this organization is "to make sure that our veterans and their families receive the support and recognition they deserve." 

The web site for the American Legion states that veterans have "unique needs" that require our "support and [recognition of] these needs as well as action [on our part] to make a difference for these brave men and women.  It also states that since "every citizen of the United States benefits from their service," we should all "join with the American Legion in supporting them."  The site lists the various ways that we can support the American Legion:  1) Being "aware that the real and unique issues women veterans face is critical in today's military environment."  2) "The unemployment rate of transitioning service members is growing," and we can honor them and support the American Legion by hiring returning veterans.  3) Support programs such as Operation Comfort Warriors to get involved in aiding and supporting wounded, injured, and ill veterans and their families.  4) We can support military families during times of deployment through programs such as the Family Support Network and Temporary Financial Assistance.

"The American Legion is working every day to ensure valuable and free service is available within their communities for this purpose."  The American Legion invites all Americans to join their efforts to support our troops and their families during and after their military service.  You can find more information at their web site.  

One of many projects to help veterans is the Wounded Warrior Project that helps "thousands of injured warriors returning home from the current conflicts and to provide assistance to their families."  Veterans Day is a perfect time for us to "remember, recognize, and honor injured warriors who have paid such a high price for our freedom.  Tax deductible donations can be made at their web site.                      

For Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, Breanne Harris suggested that we "think creatively about how to give back to those who have served and protected our country.  There are millions of small ways to show gratitude towards America's service men and women…."  She posted "100 Ways to Honor a Veteran". 

 The first ten suggestions are as follow:  "1) Say `thank you'.  It's such a small, simple gesture that is completely disproportionate to the sacrifice soldiers make for us, but they really do appreciate it.  2) When you see a soldier or veteran eating at a restaurant, discretely tell the waiter/waitress that you'd like to pick up the tab for them.  3) Ask your company to name Veterans Day an official company holiday.  A 2010 poll by SHRM found that only 21% of companies planned to observe the holiday this year.
4) Donate to the USO.  5) Volunteer at a local USO Chapter.  6) Don't forget to acknowledge the soldiers who served our country but didn't fight in a foreign war….  Soldiers who do not fight in a foreign war are often given less attention, but are just as worthy of our praise and appreciation.  7) Send a `Cheer' postcard to military families and Cheerios will donate $1 to the USO for each postcard they receive.  8) Learn about how to support military families emotionally.  When a spouse is deployed, it's so hard to know what to say or to do to help their family…..  9) Place flowers/flags on the graves of veterans.  10) Proudly display your American flag."

I do not remember hearing about Veterans Day while I was growing up.  My father was too old to serve in World War II but left home to build tunnels in Alaska.  Two brothers were drafted into the army, one during the Korean War and the other before we fought in Vietnam.  The first I remember about Veterans Day was when I worked at Hill AFB as a young adult and got time off work. 

I married into a family who sent numerous sons into the military service during World War II.  My father-in-law served in the Navy, and his brother was in the Air Corp.  My mother-in-law saw six brothers leave to fight in the war; she witnessed the miracle of having all six of her brothers come home alive.  At least one of them was wounded, patched up, and sent out again.  She also saw her two younger brothers serve in the military; one of them went to Korea and one of them served in Germany and then as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.  Needless to say, both Memorial Day and Veterans Day was a very important day in my husband's family!

I was slow to recognize the great sacrifices that our military men and women make for our nation, but I finally got it.  I was even slower to recognize the great sacrifices made by their families.  My first memory of this recognition was when I became a parent of sons.  I began to think more deeply about how my husband's grandmother must have felt while her six sons were fighting far from home.  There was no Internet for instant communication and very few telephone calls.  How she must have worried about them!  How her heart must have ached to know if they were safe!  How grateful she must have been to have them all come home in one piece!

I did not think much about the sacrifices made by current day military families until my own son served in the Air Force for four years.  He was deployed several times, but he was never in any danger.  He had advance notice for most of his deployments, but he had less than 24 hours notice for one of them.  In fact, my husband and I were on our way to his house in Virginia to watch his children while he and his wife went on a little honeymoon trip with another couple.  We were half way there when he called to tell us that he would not be there when we got there.  We arrived at his home and convinced his wife that she should continue with her planned trip.  We watched the children and left without seeing our son at all.

Previous to this particular deployment, he was sent to Qatar for five months and left soon after his second daughter was born.  Even though he was fortunate to be able to communicate often with his wife, he missed those first few months of his daughter's life and missed the bonding that usually takes place at that time.  He really had to work hard to bond with her after his return home.

I know that there are many families who make greater sacrifices that my family has.  My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones during war, particularly the little children who have lost parents.  We owe a great debt to these families!  I also recognize the great sacrifices made by the veterans and families who deal with war time injuries and trauma.

Thank you to all former and current military members and their families.  Thank you for answering the call of our nation.  Thank you for protecting me and my family.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for your service!

Please join me in showing our gratitude and honor to all veterans who have served or who are currently serving.  Please teach the rising generation of the importance of Veterans Day and thus strengthen our homes, communities, and nation!  

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