How to honor our soldiers this Veteran’s Day

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USA patch flag on soldiers arm

Image: Shutterstock/Christopher Lyzcen

Veteran’s Day is marked on November 11 each year. For some, it’s just another day. For others, it’s a time to reflect on the sacrifice of fallen soldiers and the gratitude towards survivors for protecting our country. Without our military members, America would not be the safe, free nation that it is. It’s easy to overlook veterans because they’re not in the public eye. We just see current soldiers on the news and hear the death counts. But veterans are worthy of our appreciation. Many made it home with injuries, life-long disabilities, and PTSD. Though their service time has ended, their work and sacrifice overseas will never be erased.

World War I ended on June 28, 1919. However, the battles and raids did not cease until a peace treaty was agreed upon on November 11, 1919. That day was known as Armistice Day. Armistice means peace, and the hope was that there would always be peace between the nations after that brutal, devastating war. This hope was not fulfilled. During World War II and the Korean War, millions of soldiers flooded overseas. Many of those brave souls never returned to our country that they fought so nobly to protect, and the ones who did return were never the same. To honor survivors of all three wars, Armistice Day was renamed as Veteran’s Day. It is a day to pay tribute to veterans from any war, to show our gratitude, and to remember the fallen. Freedom is easily taken for granted in our country, but the ones who paid for that freedom have not forgotten the price.

Though the lives lost, trauma, and injuries can never be made up for, citizens can honor veterans in many ways on November 11. Small gestures of thankfulness and even just recognizing this overlooked people group can go a long way. If you’d like to say thank you to a vet this year, consider the following options.

  • If you see a veteran or soldier eating a meal at a restaurant, discreetly tell the waiter/waitress you’d like to pick up the tab.
  • Place flowers or flags on the graves of veterans.
  • Ask a veteran to tell you their story.
  • Visit a wounded veteran in the hospital or nursing home.
  • Deliver meals or care packages to veterans.
  • Donate money to the United Service Organizations (USO), or volunteer at your local USO chapter.
  • Send leftover Halloween candy to active soldiers.
  • Display yellow ribbons on your clothes, your car, or a tree outside your home.
  • If you are a manager or a human resources representative, hire a veteran.
  • Offer to take a veteran out for a meal or coffee.
  • Attend a Veteran’s Day Parade.
  • Offer home repair services, lawn care, or other skills for free to a veteran or soldier.
  • Grant a wounded warrior’s wish. There are plenty of websites that will get you connected with an organization near you. Either donate or volunteer to help make a wish come true.
  • Drive a veteran to their doctor appointments, grocery stores, banks, etc.
  • Visit a local war memorial and spend some time in quiet contemplation.
  • Support your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter.
  • Bake some goodies and take them to your local VFW, hospital, retirement home or other location for veterans.
  • Raise awareness. There is so little discussion of veterans in today’s society. Many people don’t know the struggles vets go through to find job placement upon returning home, the mental difficulties, or adjusting to life post-injury/surgery. Make posts on your social media accounts, share stories and videos of vets, take pictures when you’re at the Veteran’s Day parade or visiting with a vet. Let them know they’re not forgotten.
  • Teach your children about Veteran’s Day and the importance of respecting past and present soldiers.
  • Support businesses and products that give percentages of their earnings to veterans and deployed soldiers’ families.
  • If you like crafts, offer to help a veteran make a scrapbook of their war memorabilia and old pictures. They can use it as a tool when telling their story to others.
  • Wear red, white and blue on November 11.
  • Adopt a military family during the holiday season. Financially and emotionally, they will be stressed to make the holidays feel joyful with their family member deployed/disabled/deceased. See what you can do to brighten their Thanksgivings and Christmases.
  • Invite a veteran to join you and your family for a holiday meal.
  • Simply ask what a veteran or military family needs. Then do that thing.
  • Say “thank you,” and mean it.

Kaitlyn is a graduate from Lee University and is a staff editor for R.H. Boyd Publishing. She enjoys travel, books and penguins. When she's not working, she dreams of seeing the world.