In a matter of hours it will be Veterans Day. Festive grilling and parades will be the order of the day. But what is also on the schedule is the is the use of pandering veterans for political purposes, 4 day sales at 20% percent off and a day for dress up for the pretend heroes. All of these things have really have a impact on how Veterans Day is viewed as just another holiday. Veterans day should be a day were those who have served honorably should be recognized rather then just the one that we agree with politically. That it should be a day to dismantle every stereotype about Veterans that have endured various hardships, but also endured to live a happy and productive life after the guns go silent. To understand that a receptive ear with a helping hand have a more enduring effect then a free blooming onion. We are one of the few professions that has can provide such a strong and enduring connection with complete strangers. Also the task of making sure that the stories of those who have served before us are preserved for those yet to come. Also to protect them from those that would steal them for their own.
The reason that I started with this post was after watching a video posted by Rethink Afghanistan. In the video it calls to honor the Veterans that oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on Veterans Day. I was insulted not because of the fact that they oppose the Wars, but in the sense that it was all but saying that we should only honor those Veterans with their point of view excluding many that have not be vocal about their views or have been on the opposite side of the fence. Veterans day should not be about scoring political points for your gain , but a overall reflection and respect to those that have served with honor and distinction, regardless their views. It is about the small token of respect that is offered to those who have come before, with and after us. Also in the respect that despite how may people would like to see us as shown by popular media or political organizations. That how highlight how we have lived our lives in and out of the Military in contrast to the unstable loner. Because if we are not willing to do this now then how can we expect others to do this for us in our Golden years?
It should also be a day of family in that when we are deployed that may of us become close because of the hardships, separations and dangers. But that often disappears when we return home, a place were it could be said is needed the most. While family may want to help, it is the basic things like understood terms that help a difficult conversations to happen without having many intermissions to explain military jargon. If the military is to be considered a family then perhaps Veterans day should be looked more as a family reunion. To remember old times and learn of some new ones. We are certainly a dysfunctional family , but I think that is what keeps us coming back for more.
Lastly is to use it to remember the past. That we must be open to new types of media and communications of the newer generations. In one of the past Veterans Day,before I joined the military I took part in a WW2 them table top tournament at a Army Museum in Austin. While we were there we got a chance to talk to those that served in previous wars. One of the stories was about several Shermans going down a hill and the fuel tank breaking open and flooding the the crew compartment. Also it was a lively exchange of stories from retired military , educators, and other history buffs alike. It is preservation of the character of these people that should remember in hopes that the next generation will emulate it.
But lastly is the protection of the character from those that wish to steal it. Normally a medal is viewed a strand of fabric with a shiny signet. That it can infuse the wearer with respect and purpose just by wearing it, the more medals the larger the respect would be come. But it it not the undeserved praise that is greatest insult but in that many a times these medals come at cost, some more then others. The cost can be time, hardships, pain and longer natural life. If it were possible for these medals to allow these pretenders to relive what many had to do to earn these medals, then perhaps there would be less of a desire wear them.. But that will never happen, so it is up to us to keep a good look out and find these people. Because it is a crime not because of the honor taken from real honest to God Veterans, but because they are unwilling to endure the hardships to wear that strip of colored cloth.
All in I hoped I would not get too wordy in this, though I believe I failed in that. I wanted to say with a detailed answer of what it means to observe Veterans Day and what we can do to make it have real meaning rather then just another four day weekend on the calendar.