What is courage and what is the definition of freedom? Freedom is something we as Americans are used to and perhaps sometimes even take for granted. We have freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the freedom to choose our own jobs and freedom to choose who we will marry. Could you imagine living without that, under the crush of a dictatorship such as North Korea’s or under the barbaric rule of ISIS? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
We live in the greatest nation in the world— the very definition of freedom—because of the courage and commitment of our veterans—and today on Veterans Day, in particular, it is a great honor to say thank you to all those who serve and may one day have to offer the greatest sacrifice—their lives—in order to protect our freedom. Our country is stronger and safer today because of the generations of men and women fighting for our freedoms.
From all walks of life
There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States. These brave American men and women who serve and protect us come from all walks of life. They are the young mothers and fathers in our community, our grandparents, our neighbors, coworkers, local students and more—they are those who make up the fabric of our community.
For those who are, or who have been, deployed, wars can be brutish places filled with horrors. Many service members experience acute stress, anxiety and depression and are left to suffer with PTSD, physical injuries, homelessness or financial struggles.
Nearly a century of honors
To recognize their great sacrifices, we have been honoring veterans for almost a hundred years. Did you know that Veterans Day is linked to Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) notes that, “Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.”
The VA notes that the observance of Veterans Day on November 11 “helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”
Ways to say ‘thank you’
If you would like to mark the day with a special salute all your own to a veteran, here are some ways:
1. Make a contribution through the United Service Organizations (USO) in memory of or in honor of a loved one and help support returning service members as they transition back to their communities
2. Make a solider smile by sending him or her a thank you card
3. Help a veteran share his or her story through the Veteran’s History Project
4. Volunteer locally to offer a free ride to a veteran unable to travel to VA medical facilities on their own, or help out a veteran with grocery shopping, errands or more through the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization
Simply say “thank you” to a veteran
Freedom is never free
Today on Veterans Day, let us all remember the brave contributions our veterans have made and continue to make to ensure our freedoms remain and that our country stands strong. For their bravery, dedication, hard work and great sacrifice, today we say “thank you” to all those who serve.