No two words in the English language evoke more love and empowerment than “Thank You.” Words and gestures that display gratitude can make an immeasurable impact on a veteran’s life. Veterans Day honors America’s veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve for the common good. Veterans sacrifice their innocence, bodies, time with their friends and family, and their lives to protect this country. We are all indebted to our troops. If you see someone wearing his or her uniform, go out of your way to make sure the person knows how much you appreciate his or her sacrifice. When you notice a uniformed soldier eating in a restaurant, track down the server and offer to pay the tab. It is that easy. Here are some more ways you can give of yourself on November 11 and always.
- Learn. Poet William Butler Yeats described, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Communities across the U.S. will be celebrating Veterans Day through observances, fêtes, and activities. These events are an excellent opportunity to commemorate and learn more about the service of our veterans. To find a planned event near you, visit http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/
- The Kid Stays in the Picture. Encourage a new generation of Americans to thank veterans. Children thoroughly enjoy placing DVDs, CDs, video games, board games, batteries, sunglasses, books, magazines and phone cards into boxes while decorating letters to veterans stationed overseas. (The adults can get in on the act too by placing postage on the boxes to send to the troops.) Call a nearby military base to find out how to best reach soldiers in need or click on http://www.anysoldier.com/index.cfm and http://booksforsoldiers.com/care-package-help/ to learn more.
- Think Globally, Act Locally. Volunteer alongside veterans or consider donating to worthwhile organizations in your hometown as I did recently with Amputee Veterans of America Support Team (http://avastonline.org/) and Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 787 (http://www.vva787.com/).
- Corporate Culture. As ever increasing numbers of soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the facts remain the same: Unemployment rates continually skew higher for veterans than for civilians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you can, commit your business to hiring veterans because the advantages veterans bring to civilian work are many: A drive to be successful, a commitment to the organization and a tremendous amount of respect for other employees and employers. Similarly the concept of failing is not generally acceptable to somebody who has served in the military. Study “Hiring Our Heroes” organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discover how you can help: http://www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes
How will you commit to honoring veterans today and throughout the years? John Fitzgerald Kennedy conveyed, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”