Veterans Day is just a few days away and, with the number of veterans in the US the highest it’s been since the Vietnam war, lots of families, mine included, are looking for a way to make it more than just another day off of school. Here are some ways you and your family can honor veterans and active duty military, including suggestions from military families themselves.
1. Participate in a Day of Service
Last year, in honor of Veteran’s Day, my family participated in a local day of service, cleaning up a trail alongside recent veterans and their families, and it’s something we’re looking into doing again. All for Good, a service of volunteer powerhouse Points of Light, offers a searchable database of local volunteer opportunities if you’d like to spend some time volunteering on Monday.
2. Say Thank You
Send a thank you card to a veteran in your life, whether it’s your grandfather or a family friend, or just take a moment to say thanks to veterans at a local parade. If you don’t anyone in the military and you’d like to send a thank-you card, A Million Thanks can help. It’s a simple gesture that three separate military families mentioned to me as very meaningful.
3. Support A Veteran-Focused Organization
Team Rubicon is a disaster relief organization that maximizes the skills and talents of veterans, and supporting the group is a great way to respond to both Sandy and to recognize Veterans Day. Most recently, Team Rubicon’s veterans sprung into action to help out post-superstorm, checking on residents, clearing streets, and gathering information. Their quickly-deploying teams have worked everywhere from Haiti to the Sudan. You can provide a donation for general operating support -flexible funds that help the organization stay ready to jump in when help is needed – or, with your family, take time to pick something off their wishlist of gear, such as IV bags. Find out more here. Or, support the continued good work of the USO.
4. Help Families Back Home
Blogger Korinthia Klein, whose husband Ian is an officer in the Army Reserve who served two deployments in Iraq, emphasized supporting families back home. Here’s what she said:
“What most soldiers are interested in is how their families are cared for in their absence. If you know a family who has someone deployed they could probably use help. Simple things like offering childcare for an afternoon or helping run errands or fixing things around the house can mean more than most people know.”
5. Teach Your Children About the American Flag and the National Anthem
One mother of four and wife to a Marine who’s been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan suggested a simple and important way that people of all ages can honor those who’ve served in the military, one that’s deeply meaningful for her family: take a moment to talk about two symbols of our country, the flag and the national anthem, and to recognize them. Standing up during the anthem, hats off and hands over hearts, can be especially important to people who’ve served, or those who’ve lost friends or loved ones in combat, and it’s something we can all do to show our respect at baseball games and parades.
6. Reflect on Past Sacrifices
A father of one who’s served over fifteen years in the Navy told me that, on Veteran’s Day, he finds the nearest cemetery with war casualties and spends time there in reflection. For families with older children, this can provide an opportunity to think about military service, past battles, and all that we risk and sacrifice each time our country goes to war.
How does your family recognize Veteran’s Day? What’s been meaningful for you and yours?