A Day to Honor Service
Banks and government offices will be closed on Friday, Nov. 11, and the post office won’t deliver mail. Most schools will be open, but several have special events scheduled. As much as I would like to assume everyone will immediately recognize that date as Veterans Day, I know that’s probably not the case, and that concerns me.
As someone who served in the Missouri Army National Guard, Veterans Day is special to me. My experience as a guardsman assigned to Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment connects me with a long line of Americans who share a bond of service to our nation. My unit could trace its beginnings to the “Kansas City Guards,” a Missouri Militia unit which formed shortly after the end of the Civil War. Among those who came before me in the 129th was Capt. Harry Truman, who commanded the unit in France during World War I, long before he became America’s 33rd president. “Truman’s Own” continues to contribute to America’s defense today as a Missouri Army National Guard unit based out of Maryville. As one of many Missourians assigned to this unit through the years, I share in its strong tradition and take pride in having played a small part in maintaining our nation’s readiness.
The U.S. Census Bureau tells us fewer than one out of 15 Americans has ever served in our nation’s Armed Forces. With that in mind, I suppose it’s not surprising that Veterans Day doesn’t hold some people’s attention the way it has in the past. Many people today, with little personal connection with the military, may be tempted to view Nov. 11 as just another day on the calendar. If they do appreciate the history, they may be unsure how best to celebrate Veteran’s Day.
Well first, I don’t believe it is a day for celebration. Instead, I think Veterans Day should be a day for reflection. It is a time when we should think about the sacrifices those who served in the military have made for our country. I hope all Americans would take a moment and consider what it means to defend our country.
Honestly, it’s probably hard for people who didn’t serve to fully appreciate what military service is like, or what is required of our veterans. And frankly, no two stories are alike. With that in mind, I have a suggestion: Instead of simply thanking a veteran for his or her service, maybe you could ask questions. You have to be careful, of course, because many veterans aren’t comfortable sharing details, but most would be honored to recall at least parts of their experience. Asking questions lets a veteran know you’re interested and appreciate their service, while providing them the opportunity to share as much or as little as they choose. When did you serve? Which branch of the military? Why did you chose that branch? What did you enjoy most during your time in the service?
If you don’t know a veteran, or aren’t comfortable asking questions, you could donate to one of the many organizations that support veterans. If you have friends or family members who served, give them a call to see how they’re doing. If you are an employer, consider doing something special to recognize the veterans on your staff on Nov. 11. If nothing else, fly the flag. I don’t know many veterans who can see Old Glory wave without feeling a sense of pride in their service.
Cards and letters are always appreciated by residents at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg. Each year, at Veterans Day and Christmas, they deliver a bag of mail to each of the veterans living there. They’d like to receive Veterans Day cards prior to Nov. 8, but there’s plenty of time to send a Christmas card. You can mail them to the Missouri Veterans Home, 1300 Veterans Road, Warrensburg, MO 64093, care of Latisha Koetting.
In my opinion, we don’t do nearly enough to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifice, patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve. We truly cannot thank them enough. Personally, I am grateful for all of my brothers and sisters of the U.S. military. America continues to enjoy the blessings of liberty because you stepped forward to serve your nation and protect the ideals America was founded on. I thank you for your service and I wish you only the best on Veterans Day and in the future. Also know that as an elected official, I will do all I can to ensure that your interests and concerns are heard in the State Capitol.
Whether you, or someone you know and love served, or whether you are simply grateful for the freedoms you enjoy, I hope everyone will make an effort to reach out to the veterans on Nov. 11 and let them know how much you appreciate all they have given.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.