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As Veterans Day approaches, poetic posts and patriotic sales flood our social media feeds. Most of us will take a few minutes to publicly share our appreciation or say, "Thank you for your service" to someone in uniform. But when we truly consider what it means to show gratitude toward veterans, it leads to the question, "What more can we do?"
The first "Veterans Day" was actually called "Armistice Day," as an armistice was declared in World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. In 1954, the name was changed to "Veterans Day" to honor veterans of all wars. The holiday went through some back-and-forths, but it is now celebrated on November 11 every year. The purpose of Veterans Day is to pay respect to all living or passed veterans. In the modern United States, we enjoy our freedom to sit back and watch movies depicting soldiers in incredible action sequences, showing off their tactical gear. Unless we've gone and experienced it ourselves, we don't see the day-to-day reality of fighting for our country or understand the challenges faced in normal life after returning from the battlefield. Thus, we sometimes forget that honoring veterans should mean giving back in our daily lives.
Whether it's someone you're close to or a passing acquaintance, you probably have at least one veteran in your life. Their actions made a difference that we can't repay. When you ponder how to commemorate Veterans Day, remember authenticity matters most. How can you genuinely reflect the selfless love that veterans have shown us? Ask them what you can do. Many people don't like the spotlight, even if the intentions are kind. Instead of hosting a dinner in their honor, try reaching out with a simple message such as, "I was just thinking about how much I appreciate you, and I'd like to do something to express my gratitude. Let me know if there's somewhere special you'd like to go or something you could use a hand with!" Make a note. If the person is someone you barely know, inviting them to spend time with you may feel like putting them on the spot. However, a handwritten note can make someone's day! You can decorate it however you want and include a gift card if you want to add something extra. One sweet idea is to list your favorite parts of everyday life and thank that person for contributing to your freedom to enjoy those things. Volunteer. Many organizations work to support veterans. From building homes to training service dogs, you will find a local volunteer program if you look. One of my favorite causes to support is equine therapy for veterans with PTSD. Ranches specializing in equine therapy often run non-profit programs for veterans and invite volunteers to work as assistants. If you have event-planning skills, you can also put together a Veterans Day fundraiser, donating the money to charities that do good for veterans in your area. I hope these ideas are helpful, but ultimately, inspiration stems from the posture of your heart. Jesus tells us, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." We don't all have paths that lead us to risk our lives for others as veterans have, but we have the calling to selflessly give from where we are. When we follow God's command to love others as ourselves, we will desire to show our gratitude and empathy through the gifts He's given us.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.