Veterans Day is a day for all Americans to take a moment to be grateful, to reflect upon the tremendous costs and sacrifices endured by too many, and to honor those who have served our nation in uniform. Let’s embrace this day with solemn pride, gratitude, and a sense of purpose for what we as a free nation can achieve toward our common goals.
Check out what DPA First Vice Chair Nicole Hart, an Iraq War veteran, has to say about Veterans Day.
Each year on Veterans Day, our nation salutes the brave men and women who sacrificed for America. Many take time to shake the hand of a veteran or bestow a gesture of honor. Elected officials publicly express a few kind words, accompanied by a congratulatory pat on the back. Businesses raise flags and paint proud messages on their storefront expressing thanks and support for the troops. Citizens don our country’s colors, yellow ribbons, and even millitary fatigue designs to show their appreciation for America’s military.
But the day after Veteran’s Day, the gestures usually end. The storefront proclamations are taken down. The praises from public figures come to a halt. The heart-warming commercials end.
For me and my fellow veterans, Veteran’s Day is more than just an opportunity for momentary tribute. It is a chance to truly connect with veterans.
Often, the greater gesture — the more needed gesture — is for people to invest the time to bond with a veteran. Connect with their struggles. Connect with their families. Connect with who they are. But…how do you do that?
There aren’t many things that you can do to show you care that’ll matter more than lending an open ear. Take a moment to indulge in the story of vet: their experience in serving, the inspiration that carried them through the darkest nights, their transition to civilian life. Raised flags, kind words, and pats on the back are welcomed symbols of patriotism. But they don’t bring back the leg lost in Desert Storm, the wife and mother taken too soon in Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the nights of sleep lost by the traumatized Vietnam War veteran. Patriotism extends beyond symbols, it must also be rooted in passion and concern for our country, and especially its heroes.
On this day, I challenge you to set aside time to connect with the life of a veteran. Chances are you have a relative who served or a veteran co-worker.
I remember while in Iraq, my school (Harding University) sent a card in my honor signed by my peers. It was covered with kind remarks and encouragement, from friends and strangers. I remember someone writing something along the lines of, “I don’t know you but I feel like I do. I’ve read the story of your life on campus and of your life oversees.” Those words resonated with me because it was someone who really connected to my story. That connected them to me.
Those are the moments that matter the most to veterans — having the listening ear and the open heart of a fellow American for whom we’ve sacrificed so much for. Healing takes place in being heard. Comfort comes from knowing someone cares.
Through this national holiday, veterans should feel connected. That can only happen if you accept the challenge. Connect with a veteran!