As November 11th approaches, another year of celebrating Veterans Day is upon us. While it’s known as a day to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans across all branches of service throughout our nation’s history, many may not be familiar with the origins of the holiday and others may find themselves at a loss for how to show their appreciation to the veterans in their life.
First of all, it’s important to remember the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a somber day of remembrance and a celebration of life for those who paid the ultimate price in service to the country. Americans typically celebrate the honorary beginning of summer on Memorial Day weekend, while honoring the sacrifice of fallen servicemembers. It’s important to find a healthy balance between honoring their sacrifices respectfully and joyfully celebrating the country and freedom their sacrifice helped to preserve.
When it comes to Veterans Day, we celebrate all those who served in the military, both living and deceased. While originally dubbed “Armistice Day” to celebrate the end of World War I, November 11th became “Veterans Day” in 1954 and thus began a time of better recognition for all that military service entailed.
While veterans haven't always been treated well, the past two decades have seen an undeniable rise in appreciation, concern, and respect for veterans across all services. Now, Veterans Day is marked by many towns across America holding ceremonies and celebrations while businesses frequently offer special deals to help veterans feel appreciated.
If you have a veteran in your life and you’re looking for a special way to honor them this year, we have a few ideas from our team of military veterans:
- Attend a Veterans Day parade or ceremony or be a volunteer: This is a great way to show your support for veterans, learn more about the veterans in your community, and help fill volunteer roles to allow veterans to focus on celebrating.
- Donate to a veterans' organization: There are many organizations that support veterans and their families. Consider donating to one of these organizations on Veterans Day. Ask the veteran in your life if there’s a particular organization or cause that’s important to them and donate in their name. Make sure to research which organizations give the most to veterans with full transparency.
- Give a service-related gift: To specifically honor an important veteran in your life, consider a personalized gift like a landscape boulder that honors their service. A customized landscape stone is a beautiful and simple way to convey the pride and appreciation you feel for the service and sacrifice of the veteran in your life. Whether for someone in your own home or another, an engraved boulder with the veteran’s branch of service or simply “Veteran” on it, can mean so much. It’s a way to help them feel remembered and appreciated for the other 364 days of the year.
- Volunteer your time to help veterans: There are a long list of ways to spend your time helping veterans, such as visiting older veterans in nursing homes (ask them about and listen to their stories), volunteering at a VA hospital, helping with a veterans' food bank, or mentoring a veteran.
If you’re looking to make a difference for veterans beyond Veterans Day, consider sending letters or cards to veterans in nursing homes who may feel their service has been forgotten. If you’re an employer, honor veteran employees with a special recognition. Support veteran-owned businesses. Educate yourself about the challenges that veterans face, especially if you have a loved one in your life who's a veteran. The more you know about the challenges veterans face, the better equipped you will be to support them.
No matter how you choose to honor the beloved veteran in your life, the most important thing is to do it with sincerity and gratitude. Many veterans live with the scars of their service and carry the heavy memories of war and loss like an invisible burden. Throughout our nation’s history, veterans have answered the call and paid the price for many freedoms and rights we enjoy every day. This year, let’s find new ways to honor that legacy and support their futures.