11/12/2010 02:13 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This Week's HuffPost Family Dinner Download: Veterans Day, Sacrifice, National Service

In her new book, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie to launch a new feature we're calling HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads. Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.

The family can gather around the laptop, smartphone, or iPad -- or just print out the post and pass it around the table. Each Dinner Download will end with a question or two that we hope will get everyone thinking and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

This week, America observed Veterans Day. Most students and many workers had the day off. (Bonus points if you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. **See answer below.)

But even though the United States is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the day set aside to honor America's veterans often gets very little attention from the media. You were much more likely to hear about whether Kanye West and President Bush had buried the hatchet than you were about the hard times so many of America's veterans are experiencing.

Politicians from both parties like to talk about "supporting the troops." But did you know that 107,000 veterans were homeless each night last year? Or that some 300,000 veterans have come home from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from something called PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome), a mental condition that makes it very hard for many veterans to put the war behind them and return to their normal lives?

Do you think we do enough to help America's soldiers when they come back from war? What do you think we could do to better honor their service and sacrifice? Do you know any kids in your school whose mother or father is in the military? What do you think it would be like to have a parent serving overseas?

At the moment, only people who volunteer serve in the U.S. military. In many countries, like Germany, Russia, and Israel, all young men are required to spend anywhere from six months to three years serving their country (Israel asks the same commitment from its young women). In some countries, this service has to be in the military; in others, people are given the choice of joining the military or serving their country by working at a local school, hospital, or nursing home, helping clean up their community, or by representing their nation as a foreign aid worker in another country.

Do you think we should have the same kind of requirement for national service here in America? If you were required to, how would you choose to serve your country? Do you think it's fair that, in some countries, boys are expected to serve and girls are not?

(**Answer to Bonus Question: Memorial Day honors soldiers who died in service of our country. Veterans Day honors living veterans of America's armed forces.)

To see last week's Family Dinner Download, click here.

Subscribe to receive HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads by email every Friday afternoon.

For more tips and recipes, check out The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt.