Veterans Day. We’ve been recognizing this day our entire lives. I think most of us are aware that Veterans Day is observed each year on November 11 and is a salute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. With that being said, do we really know what this day means? Let’s start with a little bit of background on this monumental day.
On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared this day to be recognized as Armistice Day—a day to honor the courage and sacrifices made of all soldiers who lost their lives during World War I. Nearly 20 years later, Raymond Weeks, also known as the “Father of Veterans Day” proposed the idea that Armistice Day should be broadened and acknowledge all veterans instead of just the fallen soldiers of World War I. After much discussion and nine years later, in 1954, the bill passed and was signed into law. Since then, we have known this day to be Veterans Day.
Now that we know a few details on the backstory of this federal holiday, let’s talk about the vets themselves. Did you know that right now, there are approximately 19.5 million veterans living in the United States? Do you have any vets who are near and dear to your heart? If not, do you know a vet through mutual friends or extended family? Regardless of your relationship with veterans, it is important they feel valued and appreciated. Because let’s be real, without our veterans, we would not be able to experience the freedom we have today. To add to the mix, roughly 20% of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and/or major depression. Each and every one of them made a sacrifice for us. Simply showing your appreciation and making them feel valued goes a very long way.
There are many ways we can show respect to veterans and truly become a supporter of this special day. While the list could go on and on, here are a few ideas:
-Attend a Veterans Day event in your community, such as a parade or an assembly.
-Lace those sneakers up and participate in a Veterans Day 5K. Typically, most of the race fee will be donated to an organization supporting veterans.
-Purchase a treat for your favorite veteran from Operation Cookies, a veterans owned small business dedicated to baking and shipping cookies to veterans and deployed service members around the world. Over the years, Operation Cookies has donated more than $7,000 to veteran supporting causes.
-Donate to an organization in support of veterans. There are many options to choose from, such as Disabled American Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project and Homes for Our Troops.
-Talk to someone about their service. Being present, listening and providing your full attention will help a veteran feel respected.
-Locate the nearest Veterans Affairs facility near you and volunteer for the day. Most VA facilities will host special events on Veterans Day, allowing the public to offer a hand and give back.
-Last, but certainly not least, attend Life University’s 4th Annual Veterans Day Celebration! You will have the chance to hear from Keynote Speaker Brig. Gen. Craig McPike, the 94th Airlift Wing Commander of Dobbins Air Reserve Base. This is certainly an event you will not want to miss and a perfect opportunity to celebrate Veterans Day.
Aside from this list, how about a simple “thank you” the next time you recognize someone as a veteran out in public? While it may be a small gesture to you, you could be making this individual’s day, week, month, year or even life. Remember that and remember our veterans.