Ways to Show Gratitude to Veterans

©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com

Veterans Day sends a message not only of gratitude, but also of the value of service before self.

Our veterans didn’t sign up for military service to get rich or gain recognition.

Why then did they serve?

To make a difference.  To protect our nation. To follow in a family tradition. To gain skills. To finance a college degree. To show patriotism. To support a family.  To have a career.  To develop leadership.  To prepare for the future.  To have an adventure.  To be part of something with a larger and lasting impact.

Different reasons draw people to military service, but no matter what the stated reason, a key element is service.

Service before self.

Men and women who previously served on active duty in the military are veterans.  I’m so proud my husband, Charlie, is one of them.  So was my dad. An aircraft mechanic in WWII, my dad went from a country boy in AL to serving in Italy, but it was anything but glamorous. Part of the “Greatest Generation,” he served proudly and honorably, but never boastfully. Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, only around 325,570 are still alive.

In 2019, 18.8 million living men and women were defined as veterans. That’s only around eight percent of the U.S. population aged 18 and over.

Throughout history, veterans have used bravery, training, discipline and dedication to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

How can we give respect this Veterans Day or throughout the year to men and women who served in uniform? 

  • Ask veterans to share stories about their service.
  • Fly the flag of our United States.
  • Reach out to those you know who’ve served. Send a card, an email, a note, or call them.
  • Pray for the veterans.
  • Ask acquaintances if they have veterans as family members. Acknowledge them.
  • Post a meme on social media honoring the service of our veterans.
  • Thank a veteran when you see one in uniform, but don’t be surprised if they seem embarrassed and humbled by the attention.
  • Avoid insensitive questions: i.e. “Have you seen someone get injured or die?  Have you killed anyone? Do you have PTSD?”  But, know this, even if you ask a question that’s off the mark, they’ll be prepared.
  • Ask questions to learn more about their service, why they chose to join the military and what they learned.
  • Avoid assumptions.
  • Show compassion to those who were physically injured in service; understand others may carry mental wounds. All deserve the support of a caring nation.
  • Hiring? Consider a veteran.
  • Having a party? Invite a veteran.
  • Send a magazine to a Veterans Home.
  • Support policies that help veterans.
  • Donate to a veterans’ charity you’ve researched.
  • Talk to spouses of veterans about their stories and experiences.

How can we honor the service of veterans? 

Celebrate the freedoms we have.

  • Worship freely.
  • Pray.
  • Give dignity and kindness to others.
  • Advocate.
  • Vote.
  • Gather peacefully.
  • Study history.
  • Travel.
  • Serve on a jury.
  • Take care of our property.
  • Educate ourselves on national, international and local news from reliable sources.
  • Choose our education or career, and celebrate the ability to change it.
  • Read the Bill of Rights.
  • Serve in some way. If not in the military or government service, find a place to give back in your community, your church, or to charitable organizations.
  • Enjoy a barbeque. Have a picnic.  Walk in a park.
  • Read the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • Hug your children and grandchildren.
  • Help those less fortunate.
  • Use speech in ways that build, boost and better.
  • Be thankful.
  • Live life with purpose.

Let’s honor the sacrifice and service of those who protected it in the past so that our present and future can be lived free.

From my heart to yours, thank you to all our veterans – and their families.

As grateful as we are to veterans for protecting the freedom and security we enjoy as a nation, true individual freedom is found in God’s grace and mercy through Christ. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to enjoy the ultimate peace of heart and mind if we use our freedom wisely.

Service before self.  Sacrifice of self.

Lessons modeled for us.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  Galatians 5:13-15 NIV

  • Have you ever talked to a veteran about his or her service and what they experienced?
  • Which of the ways listed do you most celebrate the freedom we have in the United States?
  • In what ways do you put the practice of “service before self” and “sacrifice of self” in your life?

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.  1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NIV

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them.  Psalm 119:45-47 NIV

Life Is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™

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