Five years after founding The Gratitude Campaign, I've received over 10,500 e-mails, and 1,500 comments on YouTube. It seems that there is a lot to talk about with regard to gratitude for those who serve; not the least of which is the ever present challenge of understanding how to keep the politics out of it. Hopefully this blog will give us an opportunity for some rational, reasonable, and respectful discussion. I hope you'll join us...
It occurs to me that, as we approach Veterans Day, we might take just a few minutes to think about what we observe on that day, and why we observe it. It seems that for many of us the calendar is filled with holidays that mean little more to us than a day off of work, or out of school, or perhaps the inconvenience that banks and post offices are closed for the day. Sadly, Veterans Day frequently falls in that category.
So what do we observe on Veterans Day, and why? The obvious answer seems to be, well, we observe Veterans and their service. It’s about them. And that is true. But I think that, more to the point, we observe what Veterans have given us. We observe the Freedom that they have provided each and every one of us through their service. Quite simply, we are free because of their service and sacrifices -- tens of millions of men and women serving in a thousand different ways, in hundreds of different places throughout the world, over 200+ years. Veterans come in all shapes and sizes. They might be a senior citizen, or a 22 year old. More importantly, they might be your mother, father, brother, sister, grandparent, coworker, teammate, neighbor... they are us, and we are them.
Ask yourself this: Where would you be without your Freedom? Who would you be without your Freedom? In a very real way, Veterans Day is as much about us as it is about them. It’s about our Freedom to explore who, what, where, and how we want to be in this world, and then simply extending a heartfelt “thank you” to those who have provided that to us, day in and day out, for our entire lives.
We observe Veterans Day on November 11th every year because it also marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I – “the war to end all wars” – on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Unfortunately, it did not end all wars. But we remember that day, and we call it Veterans Day as we also remember the service and sacrifices of those who have provided us with our Freedom, safety, and security – our ability to simply be. And in expressing our gratitude, we wish the same for them.