Tomorrow is a day for parades that honor the 18 million former servicemen and women who–these days–volunteer to give of their time and perhaps their lives on behalf of the country. Like many people in my generation, I remember when the day was called Armistice Day because that was the name we first heard as kids like Boulder Dam instead of Hoover Dam and tin foil instead of aluminum foil. The name was officially changed to Veterans Day in 1954.
In 2016, President Obama signed the Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act urging Americans to observe a two-minute period of silence at 3:11 p.m. local time. On Memorial Day, the moment of silence occurs at 3:00 p.m. local time. In both cases, the silence honors those who died and those who served.
Many of us are veterans, have family members who are veterans and know others who are veterans. While the day doesn’t lend itself to family gatherings like Thanksgiving, acknowledging veterans in some way seems to be preferable to using the day to attend sales of one kind or another.
In 2019, the Cohen Veterans Network commissioned a poll and learned that 49% of veterans don’t like to be thanked for their service. In general, veterans feel uncomfortable being thanked. Better, perhaps, to ask where the person served and/or what their service branch and job were. One can always donate or provide volunteer support to organizations that support veterans. If you search online, you’ll find many charities focused on veterans, including those trying to help former servicemen and women cope with PTSD.
I think we owe it to ourselves to find out why so many veterans are homeless–possibly 40,000 at this point–and work toward ways of solving this national embarrassment. That number appears to have decreased during the last several years.
Pick what works for you. Being involved serves the greater good, I think.