Gratitude and Freedom

November 16, 2021

Last week was Veteran’s Day. This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in our country's service and was originally called Armistice Day. November 11 was chosen as the date because that is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. However, in 1954 the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in order to account for all veterans in all wars. The tradition was to celebrate at 11:11 a.m. each November 11. Big cities and small villages and their people all over America gathered to focus on the debt of gratitude they owed to the men and women who served.

Today it is still a federal holiday, but state and local governments get to decide what is open and closed. Though it once was common for special ceremonies and parades to be held, that doesn’t happen too much anymore. But many people still celebrate and honor veterans in personal ways.

  • Perhaps you were part of the many Americans who honored their family veterans by posting pictures and stories of their grandparents, parents, siblings, children, and spouses who served in one of the branches of our armed services. In fact, my wife posted about her dad and my dad on Facebook with a great deal of pride and gratitude.
  • Another way people honor veterans is to wear a red poppy on November 11. This symbol of sacrifice has been worn since World War I.
  • Restaurants often offer complimentary coffee, breakfast, or lunch for veterans who come in with proof that they have served.
  • Many people say “thank you” to everyone they see in uniform or wearing a veteran’s hat, etc.
  • Numerous sports teams wore fatigues in order to symbolically say thank you.

I believe we need to be conscientious about remembering to honor our veterans. It’s very easy for the “familiarity breeds contempt” concept to spill over into our respect and value of those who defend and protect our freedom. Taking things for granted is the work of an enemy. Familiarity is a clear and present danger.

I wonder if we really understand the price that people have paid for our freedom. We all are aware that America is far from perfect. In fact, because our nation gives freedom to everyone to express themselves, we hear over and over every single day about the flaws of the United States. This freedom to express myself even in negative ways is provided to me by the multiple sacrifices of the men and women who voluntarily choose to sacrifice on behalf of people who then may protest, harass, and picket them. They sacrifice their time, physical and mental strength. They spend long periods of time away from family and friends, and many are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

Is a meal, a poppy, a post enough to say “thank you” and honor them adequately? I don’t think so. Perhaps the best way to honor those who sacrificed for all of us is by the way we treat each other. Let’s live with respect, kindness, courtesy, and justice—treating each other with the intent for community outlined in our founding documents. They served sacrificially for us. We can all be grateful and live well together.