I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been the same since 9-11. I can’t look at an American flag without getting teary. The same thing happens when I see one of our military men or women in uniform, especially our veterans. Veterans Day, unlike Memorial Day, is a day to honor our living veterans. But I believe we should honor them every single day, not just on November 11.
A few years back, when I was on a flight home from Hawaii, the pilot announced that two very special guests were on board. Special indeed: each had done two tours of duty in Iraq. The plane erupted in applause and I was a blubbering mess. Every time I looked over at these men I thought how easy my life was and how hard theirs must have been on a daily basis. I even asked if I could treat them to a drink. But the airline had taken care of that. For the duration of the flight, Jack Daniels was their best friend! Here are some ways we can honor our military men and women, whether they are in or out of service.
• Thank a family member who has served or is serving in the military with a phone call or letter. Simply say: “Thank you for your service,” and tell that person how much their time in the military means to you and to the country.
• When you see military personnel on the street, say thank you. You might even offer to buy that person lunch. There’s nothing better than the feeling of giving to someone else, especially someone who has served or is serving in our armed forces.
• Hang your American flag! There’s no better way to pay respect.
• Never ask personal questions unless information is volunteered. My uncle, Calvin Shahbuz, a retired Air Force colonel, is more than happy to tell the family about his flying days, and we love the stories, but not all veterans are willing or able to talk about what may have been traumatic events during their service.
• Most important of all, put your money where your mouth is and donate to a veterans’ organization such as the American Legion or one of the many specialized veterans’ groups that need our help, such as the Wounded Warrior Project. Go to justgive.org to find one of many such groups and donate to it online. You can also go to www.bbb.org to double-check the accountability of your chosen charity.