Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Honoring our Veterans
History of Veteran’s Day
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Back in 1919, Armistice Day was designated as a remembrance of when, a year prior, fighting had ceased and began the end of World War I. At that time, President Wilson declared, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the living thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the council of nations.” In 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, this day was transformed to include all people who served to protect our freedom and the date is now known as Veteran’s Day. The Veteran’s Affairs Committee also began this year as a result of this initiative.
According to the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs website, 44% of veterans are over the age of 65. This is roughly 12 million people who dedicated their lives to our country in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. In Michigan alone, this is nearly 660,000 veterans. How can we show gratitude for the sacrifices these amazing people have made? One answer is simple: show them.
As you consider ways to honor our veterans, think how you would begin to show this. An African proverb describes elders as libraries. As described in the book, What are Old People For by Dr. William Thomas, this notion is important because Elders are the holders of wisdom and knowledge. “They incarnate the wisdom of the society, which they happily share often in the form of storytelling.” A great tribute we can give our veterans is capturing their stories. Honor their wisdom by recognizing their service. Ask them about the experiences they faced.
Try some of these conversation starter:
- In what branch of military did you serve? Why?
- Tell me about a friend you made while you were in the military.
- What thoughts did you have when you entered the service?
- What job did you do while in the service?
- What life lessons did you learn?
One great resource for capturing the story of service is the Veteran’s History Project. Provided by the Library of Congress, this project aims at capturing the stories of veterans in the hopes of sharing with future generations. Explore some examples from this project with a veteran you know. By relating experiences, the veteran you connect with may feel validated and appreciated for their service. Visit www.loc.gov/vets/ for the collection and for information on how you can submit a story.
Another way to show your appreciation toward veterans is by seeking support for their needs. Veterans are entitled to numerous benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Two programs are designed specifically to assist aging veterans in assistance when homebound or bed ridden and when receiving long term healthcare. If you are aware of a veteran who may qualify for these programs, look to the Michigan Veteran Resource Center with questions related to these programs. Call 1-800-642-4838 or visit www.michiganveterans.com for details. Another resource is the Veteran’s Affairs website, which is located at www.benefits.va.gov.
Finally, simply tell a veteran, “Thank you.” Tell them you appreciate the ability to live in a country where freedom and democracy are possible because of their service. Send a card, tell them in person or attend one of many parades in their honor. Simply put, show them your appreciation.