As a native of Emporia, Kansas, I’ve always held a special place in my heart for Veterans Day – even before I married my Soldier. Though I grew up in a family that was not military and in a town that had no major military connection, this day was always circled in red.
In school, we were given assignments to make cards for Veterans or write poems about what the day meant to us, but my favorite assignment was to interview someone who had served. I was lucky enough to be able to interview a member of the Greatest Generation, my grandpa. I'm not sure what exactly our teachers were hoping we'd learn from this assignment, but I remember it opening my mind to the idea of service and the burdens that our service members and their families bear.
Maybe it was my experience with Veterans Day as a young student, but I have always felt that this day was not only a day set aside to honor those who have served, but also an opportunity to bridge the civilian/military divide that is a part of our culture.
Towns across America will host ceremonies and parades where you’ll find young children waving American flags and enjoying the passing floats. Service members from all branches, serving in all capacities, will lead these parades down main street and citizens will rise as our nation’s flag passes. For many Americans, this is as close as they’ll get to a service member all year.
I encourage you to attend your town’s Veterans Day events and focus your attention on those who have previously served. Extend a hand to the gentleman wearing the Vietnam Veterans hat and the woman wearing the Team RWB shirt. Hug their spouses and family members and let them know how much our country appreciates their immense sacrifice – remember November is also military family appreciation month!
Our nation’s Veterans are as diverse as our population, so take the opportunity, after you shake their hands, to learn more about who they are and what they do. Do they own a business, are they involved in the community, do they have trouble finding adequate medical care? Veterans Day is an opportunity not just to thank them for their service, but it’s a chance to start a conversation. Veterans Day is an opportunity for each of us to learn more about what it means to serve and how we can best support the less than 1% who raised their hands and volunteered to put others before themselves.
Our entire team at the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport is honored to serve those in uniform every day and we are proud to have Veterans and military spouses on our team! If you’re a Veteran reading this, we thank you for your service and we are in awe of your courage and bravery.
We hope you all have a meaningful and reflective Veterans Day.