In November, there is a day to honor those who fought and continue to fight for our country. Some people participate in the parades and ceremonies, others just enjoy the day off.
But as I thought about how to honor veterans, not just those still alive, but also those who are gone, I thought about what veterans mean to me.
Veterans, as a group, represent something that every nation should value- people who were willing to literally fight for their country and what they believe in.
Veterans represent the willingness to go beyond talk, and put their lives on the line to defend their own country or help another country struggling to give freedom and life to their citizens.
These are not the people who just talk, who make speeches, but never act, these are the people who know at some point actions must follow words.
Veteran’s families were the ones who had the sleepness nights, worrying and wondering if they would ever see their loved one again, yet letting them go for the greater good.
In some wars, veterans were honored by their communities, but in others, they also had stigma attached to being willing to serve.
So in addition to honoring those veterans still alive, how can we honor those individuals who fought for America’s freedom from Britain, who fought against dividing our nation in the Civil War, who fought against evil on foreign soil and who fought in the smaller wars frequently forgotten?
First, we can honor their memory by being willing to take action for our country.
Back in the days of the American Revolution, there was barely a United States to fight for, but common people were willing to grab their weapons, join up and fight for the idea of liberty.
In the election of 2016, Americans had the chance to decide who they wanted to lead our country (as we do every 4 years). Regardless of who you were rooting for, there is a statistic that should concern everyone.
You’ve got about 232 million people potentially eligible to cast a vote … But only about 132 million of them did, ... That means that 100 million people who have the legal right to vote simply decided it wasn’t worth the hassle…
We can honor the veterans from history by deciding to show up. Make a choice. You decide who you want to win in your reality shows, you can decide who you think would do the best job making the future bright for your nation.
You currently have a year to study for the next big one. By next November, you should be able to commit, and take the time to “fight” for your country with your vote. From local elections to the national ones, you can contribute to the future of your country, if you only take the time to choose a side.
Politics aside, every citizen should exercise the right to vote. Our ancestors faced the threat of death to make our country what it is, surely we can find the time to stand in line, not in any danger of dying.
If you want to take it a step farther to truly honor the memory of those who came before us, choose a candidate or a cause to really stand behind and help them win in bigger ways too.
Second, we need to allow our family to choose to be the next generation of veterans.
I make this statement aware of the struggle involved, knowing how difficult it is to even fathom this possibility for my kids, who are a long way away from these choices.
Personally, I don’t even want my son to play football due to the risk of injury, and it makes me feel sick to think about him in combat.
But thinking about these veterans, both living and past, I realize that the families of veterans were heroes as well. Every parent that supported their child going off to battle, every spouse at home with the kids while their loved one risks their life, and every extended family member sharing in the fear and worry should be honored on this day as well.
If every parent in my generation continues to feel the need to protect our kids above all else, then who will stand up to fight if the need arises?
Setting aside all arguments of which wars should be fought these days, the youth that decide that they want to pursue a career in the military should be allowed to do so, just like we need people to step up into the careers of police, fire, and other dangerous professions.
I love the commercials that show the mother and son having a talk about the military, because it should be a conversation, and as adults in these special individuals lives, it is up to us to support their decisions, if they are made with care and thought.
Lastly, we can honor the veterans by continuing to make the world a better place than it was before on a daily basis.
No matter the era, veterans fought for a better tomorrow.
The enemy was different each time, but every veteran knew that it wasn’t just for the moment that they fought to win, but for all the generations that would follow.
We can honor their memories by not just focusing on the leadership of our nation, but also on the day to day moments of our society.
Do we fight for the rights for the minorities around us?
Do we stand against bullying?
Do we continue to push against racism and sexism in all domains?
These aren’t the decisions that are made by the elected officials- these are the decisions made in the workplace, schools, and local neighborhoods.
We are constantly surrounded by opportunities to fight for the fair and equal treatment of all, or to allow the injustice we see to continue.
If we, as a nation (any nation), decide to fight for the future we want to see, there will be improvements. Small cultural changes can lead to larger scale changes and the world can be better than it was before.
Just as Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day we show love to the people we care about, Veteran’s Day shouldn’t just be honored on a single day in November, forgotten the next.
How will you honor Veteran’s Day this year?