I would not describe myself as someone that comes from a “military family.” My grandfathers on both my maternal and paternal side served in WWII and the Korean War but that is to be expected with that generation of men. I did not have parents in the military and I really was not in contact with anyone that was deployed overseas growing up.
A few months ago a family member started really digging in to our ancestry and in celebration of Veteran’s Day began posting family members and their service records on social media. At first it was what I expected, a great, great uncle, some cousins three times removed, great grandparents etc. But as the commemorative day of Veteran’s Day neared, the relatives being honored were not so distant. In fact, several people popped up that I actually see quite often and somehow forgot that they had dedicated years of their lives to our Armed Services. Several of my uncles are decorated Officers. A beloved aunt served in the US Women’s Army Corp- the branch of the Army arguably instrumental in opening the door to females serving alongside their male counterparts. My brother for goodness sake served in the Navy while I was out of the country studying at university! The list continued to grow longer and longer and I began to second guess my direct disconnection to Veterans.
Why does it take a bank holiday to remind us that so many people in our lives have devoted their time serving our country? We should celebrate these individuals all year long and not because it sounds good, but let’s really give them the reverie they deserve. Let’s not dismiss the fact that family members endured intense training in Basic or were placed on the front lines to protect our freedoms just because they are now living a civilian life. Undoubtedly these years are times that they will never forget, we certainly should not either.
This Veteran’s Day I will take a moment to celebrate and honor all Veterans that so bravely trained, fought, left their families, suffered unbearable losses and celebrated victories with brothers and sisters, not through blood, but through a bond that most of us will never truly understand. Let’s honor our Veterans not just today but on all days. Let’s not disrespect the time they committed selflessly to our country just because they do not talk about it. Pay attention to those around you and the honor the sacrifices they have made that benefit our lifestyle everyday. Look around your workplace; notice those that frequent your favorite coffeehouse or restaurant. Talk to your children about what it means to be a Veteran and introduce them to all of the people around you that have been a part of our Armed Services. We are all from a “military family.” Our country is a “military family” and I ask that we all stop taking that for granted.
Connect with one of these organizations and see how you can help, not just today but throughout the year.
- Say “Thank You”.
- Visit a wounded Veteran at the hospital.
- Offer your skills to a Veteran or military family.
- Volunteer your financial, legal or career expertise via MilServe
- Deliver a meal or care package to Veterans or homes with family members deployed overseas.
- Help a Veteran family member tell their story through a project such as the Veteran’s History
You can download a VHP field kit from the Library of Congress website.
- Volunteer with an organization such as K9s For Warriors or Canine Companions for Independence, that provides therapy dogs to Veterans with PTSD.
- Offer a Vet a ride by volunteering with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, which provides free transportation to men and women unable to travel to VA medical facilities on their own.
- Visit serve.gov and use keyword “Veterans” to find more opportunities to serve our nation’s Veterans.
- Check these sites for many other simple ways to help our Veterans and show them you care and are thankful for their service.
Written by Barbara Williamson
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