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Support our vets with a smile on Tuesday
Notes from an almost-military wife
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With Veterans Day just around the corner, I’ve been thinking lately about how to best express my gratitude to our veterans. Since becoming engaged to an active-duty service member and veteran of the Iraq war in the past year, this holiday now has a different meaning for me.
Growing up, I didn’t know many veterans personally. Although both my grandfathers served our country, one in World War II and one in the Korean War, neither had gone overseas, and neither continued their service after their draft contracts. They both lived civilian lives after the wars ended and when I was growing up, my family never emphasized military service. We lived in a middle-class suburb far from any military installations where the closest personal connection I ever had with the Veterans Day holiday was an occasional glimpse of the local parade on TV.
But this year, for the first time ever, I’m surrounded by veterans. And for me, they’re no longer elderly gentlemen waving from the TV screen, but real people who have made real sacrifices.
I experience the effects of those sacrifices every day. Sometimes in the form of a phone call from a friend separated from her husband, and in need of support. Sometimes in the form of a mom in the commissary struggling to look after three children while grocery shopping. Sometimes in the form of delayed or canceled travel plans.
To anyone who has known a military spouse who raised happy and healthy children, ran a household, or maintained a successful career during their partner’s deployment (and some do all three at the same time), it can often seem like they possess a superhuman strength. That strength comes from within, to be sure, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Without the support of family and friends, the sacrifices of our veterans and their families would be much more difficult to bear. It’s the helping hands, the soothing voices, and the comforting hugs that give veterans and their families the strength they need to continue defending our country. In my own experience, I can recall many times that a friend’s caring phone call came at just the moment needed to lift me out of a gloomy mood during a deployment, a mood I most likely would have stayed in if not for the encouragement and support of those who care.
What, then, is the best way that I can express my gratitude to our veterans? The same way my friends and family have shown their gratitude to me — by providing support and encouragement, a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.
It may be easy for those of us on the home front to get wrapped up in our own daily struggles, but it’s essential that we pause to remember the challenges our veterans have faced and are still facing.
While we at home at least get a warm bed and meals of our choosing. Veterans must often deal with dangerous and difficult situations while they’re deprived of comfort.
All of us, whether we’re affiliated with the military or not, should keep those sacrifices in mind so that we remember what our veterans have given up for freedom.
So, the next time you cross paths with a service member, don’t hesitate to give them a smile, a hug, or just say, “Thank you.”
It may not seem like much, but the effects will reach farther than you can imagine.
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