Veteran’s Day

Nov 16, 2012 by

by Elaine Wright

The fall and winter holidays are fast upon us, but there is one special day among them that passes more quietly by than others, and that is Veteran’s Day. It is a day of celebrity, which includes deep appreciation of the reason for celebration, and in this case, we can actually still thank some of those responsible for our ability to celebrate.

War seems to be a horrid factor in the human existence, like disease, accidents, and plagues, as we see in our own recent decades and in the generations just before ours. Some of these events stand out beyond the norm, with historically radical consequences.

There are always those heroes who rush to save their country, serving with their lives. Fallen and not, whoever they were before, why ever they enrolled, whatever rank held, all have stood in the face of the hideously incomprehensible worst sides of mankind.  Later, those who forge on-none without lifelong wounds-are glad to be alive, managing continued service to us in one way or another long after military discharge, and claiming no heroism for themselves, but crediting their fallen ones. They have fought for us, for core human values, for their own lives, and for their fallen not to have died in vain. They have won, for all, for the future. How can we ever thank them enough?

Most of us know someone, or many, in our circles who are or who have been servicemen in different wars. Whenever we see any, we can simply say,  “Thank you for all you do.” Or, “Thank you for what you did for us, & still do.” We can pay for their coffee or their meal. We can visit the local Veteran’s Hospitals. We can participate in group mailings of letters or supplies, or group quilting. We can shake their hands or hug them. Mostly, we can just listen if they want to talk. We can be fascinated and grateful. We can share with them what we notice and appreciate in our lives, or thank them for what we can do or are doing with our lives. Don’t be deterred by the magnitude of their service. What makes an enormous difference to them is just hearing that they have made any difference, that their noble efforts were/are worthwhile. I learned about this while quite young.

On the 11th day of the 11th month of my 11th year, we had the holiday from school, and I was contemplating the reason for our day off and how insignificant anything seemed that I could do to honor veterans, for the incomparable things they had done for us. My dad was a war veteran, and he was at his job as usual. My mom explained how a normal day was the best way he could be celebrating, and in the war his life had been in direct danger on many occasions, and he bore those scars. I felt lucky to have been born at all, and wrote it in a letter thanking the captain of a ship that once picked Papa & his men out of the sea when their plane was shot down. The captain replied, and his letter remains a lifetime treasure. It also showed that behind their genuinely steadfast collective modesty, affirmation from an actual beneficiary for a “job well-done” is a healing relief.

My dad & his men are mostly gone now, greatly missed, but their legacy lives on in our celebration of their honor, and of today’s soldiers who are encouraged by the same small reinforcement of validation-our gratitude. We celebrate with appreciation.

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