What if Veterans Day Was Celebrated Year-Round?

This past Veterans Day was a memorable one for me. It started with a simple question from my inquisitive 7-year-old son, “What are we going to do to celebrate Veterans Day, Mom?”

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This past Veterans Day was a memorable one for me. It started with a simple question from my inquisitive 7-year-old son, “What are we going to do to celebrate Veterans Day, Mom?” I was taken aback, because honestly, I had never asked myself that question before, let alone expected my young son to ask that. He told me that his teacher had talked about what Veterans Day means. I suggested he call his grandpa and ask him what we could do to celebrate. My dad was in the Army in the Vietnam War era and was one of the lucky few soldiers not chosen to go to war.

The day off school and work that I was planning to use to take my kids to the latest Disney movie turned out to be much more meaningful. The phone call to Grandpa made his day. We met for lunch where my mom and my husband also joined us. Dad talked about some memories he had of this military experience and the fact that he doesn’t know why he was given orders to go to Germany, when 200-plus soldiers in his group were ordered to go to Vietnam. Dad is the most patriotic man I know and is very proud to be a vet.

After lunch, our family attended a local outdoor veterans memorial for a Veterans Day ceremony, which was touching and a little emotional at times. A petite 91-year-old World War II vet named “Homer,” wearing his old uniform, opened the ceremony, surprising the audience of 200 with his booming voice singing the National Anthem. A couple active duty soldiers then talked about their experiences in the service and their appreciation for our great country. They had been deployed to other countries in their careers and learned to love the simple things most Americans take for granted, such as green lawns and trees in our yards.

Fourth-grade students from a nearby elementary school were part of the ceremony as well, as they sang two songs especially for the vets. As they sang, I wondered if they truly understood the sacrifices the soldiers and vets present have made and are making for our freedom. Probably not, I gathered, because I don’t think most of us understand these sacrifices unless we experience them ourselves. Yet, we can appreciate them, at least, by hugging a veteran, thanking a soldier we see in uniform, attending a ceremony on Veterans Day or Memorial Day or simply reflecting to ourselves when the opportunity arises.

Taps was played as the city mayor and a soldier placed a wreath on the memorial, marking the end of the ceremony. “Hug a vet before the end of the day,” the mayor concluded.

At those words, I reached up to Dad and gave him a squeeze and thanked him. Later, he thanked the family for spending time with him and said it was his best Veterans Day yet. He especially was touched by his grandson’s gesture of picking up the phone and calling him on this day.

This special group of people deserve to be honored more than one day each year. Perhaps that can change. Don’t forget about this dedicated group of skilled men and women during your hiring process. Workshops for Warriors places veterans and wounded warriors in manufacturing careers by providing training, credentials, work experience and job placement. Find out more here