Say thank you to a veteran any day
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
While this year’s Veterans Day gained a lot of attention for falling on 11-11-11 – veterans shouldn’t have to wait for a special day to be recognized for their service.
A person doesn’t even have to approve of the war itself. My Uncle Bob, a Vietnam War veteran, said he thinks the United States made a mistake by going to Vietnam. But that doesn’t change the fact that he and the other American soldiers put their lives on the line to serve their country, spending a year or longer away from home. It doesn’t mean we should be any less grateful for their service.
Just the fact that they actually served their country – when so few of us are willing to make that commitment – makes them worthy of our respect, gratitude and support.
Interviewing numerous veterans over the course of a 15-year career in journalism, I never met one who said he or she didn’t like it when someone simply said, “Thanks for your service.”
It sounds easy, but actually saying that to someone you see in the grocery store, pumping gas at a service station or walking down the street isn’t always such a simple task. I know. I’ve thought about it many times, but the words haven’t always made it out of my mouth.
What am I afraid of? That too many people will stop that uniformed soldier to say thanks? I vow to speak more quickly from now on, before they walk away.
A person needn’t stop at saying thanks, either. The families of men and women who are deployed overseas or serving in some other part of the U.S. wouldn’t mind a “thank you” in the form of assistance with child care, shoveling after a heavy snowfall, any of the things that an absent spouse might normally handle. If you know such a family, ask them how you can help. Donate your family’s used clothes to the Disabled American Veterans: there are drop boxes located in Cloquet and Duluth. Check out the list of needed items on Page B5 of this week’s issue of the Pine Journal and give to the troops from Carlton and Pine counties who are serving overseas right now. Donate to the Honor Flights, which fly our veterans to Washington, D.C. for an incredibly special day.
“At the airport in Washington D.C. it brought tears to my eyes, all the people clapping and hugging you as you walked down the aisle,” World War II veteran Jim Burman told the Pine Journal.
The big picture matters, too.
Our nation’s lawmakers must follow through on the implicit promise made to any person in the Armed Forces, and take excellent care of the men and women who serve or have served this country. Many of our soldiers return from war with some kind of injury, to body and/or soul. We must take good care of them, and ensure they receive proper – and ongoing – treatment for whatever ails them, whether it was an injury caused by combat, a latent side effect from Agent Orange or mental illness and related problems with addiction.
We must all do our part, even if we chose not to serve in the military. Little things add up. And stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and saying “thank you” is the least a person can do.