Ninety seven years ago today, November 11, 1918, the “war to end all wars” did, in fact, come to an end. Today, we celebrate those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy each day here in the United States of America. We honor our veterans. We honor the sons and daughters, the husbands and wives, the sisters and brothers, the aunts and uncles, the mothers and fathers, the friends, and their families for all that they have sacrificed for our nation.
We have responsibilities to those we honor. We have the responsibility to be active, literate, and engaged citizens even when the vote may not go our way. We have a responsibility to take great care of the freedoms veterans have protected for us. Freedoms are not absolute and we must be responsible for the care and feeding of such privileges, because we are just that, a privileged nation.
Two things stand out as important to me on this day, the need for tangible gratitude and compassion. Merely saying thank you is not enough. Can we spread our gratitude beyond a couple of words by being aware that there is a veteran in your life who may not be able to obtain the level of healthcare their injuries, seen and unseen, require? Can we speak out for these veterans? Can we move beyond two words to writing letters to those in power who make decisions for our veterans? Can we use our power, as the people, to create the necessary resources needed to care for those who take care of us? Can we be truly thankful?
Attending a ceremony and shaking a soldier’s hand is not enough. Are we good stewards of the people, the ideals, and the land our veterans have served to protect? Are we a healthy nation that cares and takes good care of itself? Do we feed the hungry and shelter the homeless? Do we care for children? Do we truly care about each other enough to take good care with one another? Do we protect those who cannot protect themselves? Do we create policy that is good for the whole and not merely the few? Are we a people of compassion? Being a compassionate nation honors those who sacrifice in a significant and tangible way. How can we make compassion an epidemic of gargantuan proportion and honor more than any ceremony can. Can we truly honor?
Today, I show my gratitude to those who serve and those who have served by the way I live my life and value my country. It is my hope that I vote and work with veterans’ care in mind while striving to be a responsible, outspoken citizen who holds a commitment to live a life driven by compassion.
Thank you, Dad, for serving and for teaching.