Veteran’s Day originally started as Armistice Day. This was to recognize the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as the end of World War I. In 1938, the name was changed to Veteran’s Day and it now serves to recognize and honor those who served in the US Armed Forces.
I think it is important to recognize and offer a thank you to those who have sacrificed much for this nation. However, it is somewhat awkward for some vets. I am one of them. When someone says “thank you for your service” I am often at a loss as to what to say. Certainly I am appreciative of the recognition but it is not what I seek. I tend to offer a thumbs up, or a head nod and simply say “you’re welcome” and try to leave it at that. Many veterans feel the same way. Recognition, glory, and thank yous are not what veterans are generally looking for.
While veterans are appreciative of recognition, it often makes us feel odd. Many businesses offer discounts, meals, and freebies on Veteran’s Day. All of that is well and good, but it seems to me at least, a bit self-serving to take advantage. It feels strange to say I am a vet and I want my discount. Some of these freebies are offered with a valid military ID. However, unless you are a retired or current active duty vet, then you do not have a military ID. Those are turned in upon your discharge from service. The way to prove service will then lie with a DD-214, which is the paperwork that contains a veteran’s service record. I know how strange it feels to pull that out to prove military service in order to get a free meal. I did it once and it felt absolutely silly, embarrassing, and self-serving.
None of this is said to disparage those wish to give back to our veterans. It really, and truly is appreciated.
A sad fact of Veteran’s Day is the Stolen Valor type people. These are generally people who pretend they served in order to maximize personal gain. It seems these people come out of the woodwork around patriotic holidays in order to gain some recognition that was built on the backs of real people. Most of these people are very easy to spot simply because it will be the primary source of their conversation upon meeting a new person. They also tend to talk easily about what they have “done” in the military. A lot of times these seem to be stories they read in a book or saw in a magazine or movie. These people are noticeable, especially if you are in the know regarding the military.
In the coming years, more and more of these fakers or posers will claim service they do not warrant. This steps all over the sacrifices of real veterans. Even though we have been at war since 2001, the actual number of Global War on Terror veterans is relatively low in comparison to other wars. This is mainly due to the all volunteer military. Therefore, veterans are out there, they are just not a dime a dozen as many would like to think. So in dealing with the unknown, be cautious. Many want to take the credit for the work of the few.
All of this said, veterans are an extremely proud group. They are an elite group within society. In this day and age they have volunteered when few would. In the past, they have served when their nation called upon them. They do what few can. As a nation, we should all be thankful for them. Each person who has served in our military was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their brothers, sisters, and people of the United States.
As a nation, we should be proud. We should be grateful. We should be thankful men and women have been willing to put their life in harms way in order to protect the American way of life.