I ask that you bare with me a bit on this article. I could not find a way to write about the importance of Veterans Day in my life without going into a little history about why November is so special to me.
November as a Boy
As a boy, it was the first full month of the fall. It signified cooler weather, changing leaves, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving inspired me as a child, and to this day. Thanksgiving is a chance to reflect on the many things I am thankful for, to visit with family, and to indulge in robust and flavorful foods, deserts, and discussion.
In addition to Thanksgiving, I was also born in November. Is there really anything better than celebrating a birthday as a child? For me there was. Every 7 years I am blessed with the opportunity to celebrate my birthday on my favorite holiday. What more could a kid (or adult) want?
November as a Man
As an adult, many of the things I cherished about November as a boy remain. Yes, the discussion has changed. Some of the foods have changed (a lot less pasta, meatballs, and stuffed artichokes these days). And both sadly and joyfully, many of the faces at my Thanksgiving table have changed. Although there have been many changes over the years, none of them have altered the magic that November brings.
In fact, my blessings in November just seem to grow. Now, I watch as my children play in the leaves and start dreaming of the first snow fall. I have the pleasure of teaching my children family recipes and passing down the memories and stories I was taught as a boy. I have also added a few new traditions, like hunting with my in-laws and smoking deer tenderloin for Thanksgiving dinner (just like they did at the first Thanksgiving). What a great month.
November as a Veteran
With all the memories that November brings, the most significant change to November for me came in August 1998. This was the month I entered Basic Military Training in the US Air Force. I hardly knew the impact this decision would have on my life, let alone the month of November. Now, every year I am reminded of my service to our great nation. I reflect on how privileged and grateful we are to live in the United States. More importantly, I think about the many men and women I have served alongside of, the sacrifices they gave, and the memories I will always hold in my heart.
A Bit About Veterans Day
President Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 to be the first commemoration of Armistice Day. It began as an homage to the service members who lost their lives in service during World War I. Some years later (1954), Congress renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In this way, honoring the fallen WWI veterans, but the now many more WWII veterans. Veterans Day serves as a “celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” (https://va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp)
For me, this day signifies my entrance into adulthood, my love and admiration for our Constitution, and fond memories of my brothers and sisters who served before me, with me, and those to come in the future. While I continue to serve in the Air National Guard, I know my personal sacrifices are a mere smidgeon of what others have given.
Relocating to new and foreign places every couple of years; frequent trips away from home for days, weeks, and months; multiple deployments to dangerous places; missing births, birthdays, and other holidays; freely giving up some of the many freedoms citizens sometimes seemingly take for granted; injuries; fatigue; stress; and for some the ultimate sacrifice. It is true, “All gave some, some gave all.”
To My Fellow Veterans
To all my brothers and sisters, past, present, and future, thank you for your service and companionship. God bless you and the many small and large sacrifices you have given in the name of our country and Constitution.
It is because of your service that we remain a free nation. You have all played a part, no matter how small or how large, in ensuring the Constitution continues to protect our United States. You are the small elite that proudly stood up, confidently rose your hand, and selflessly swore to defend America. THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
To My Fellow Citizens
I am going to make a bold request. I request that you not thank a veteran for their service this year. (Of course you can and should, just keep reading.)
Rather, I encourage you to sit down with one or more, buy them a cup of coffee, and ask them how they are doing. Genuinely learn more about them, their dreams, ambitions, and motivations. Then, take that knowledge and find a way to help them reach their goals in some small way.
Far too many of my friends leave the service and enter a population and workforce that finds the nature and value of their service and experience incomprehensible. For many veterans, translating their skills, knowledge, leadership, and love for service into words that resonate with the average citizen and employer is extremely difficult. Veterans are taught to be self-reliant, loyal, outside the box thinkers, problem solvers, and proud. The same traits that make them amazing employees, leaders, soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines, are the same traits that hinder their transition out of the military.
Your genuine interest, and perhaps a small token of assistance, is all the thanks many of them want or need. If you are lucky, it may be the catalyst to a great and long-lasting friendship.
Welch Law is veteran owned and operated. Scott served on active duty in the US Air Force from 1998 – 2007, again from 2010 – 2014 as an officer, and transitioned to the Missouri Air National Guard in 2015. Kelly served on active duty in the US Air Force from 2000 – 2007 as a finance specialist. Find out more about Scott and Kelly here, or contact us here.