Open up your e-mail, your mailbox or turn on the T.V. and there they are. The sales. The massive discounts. The gotta-haves and the must-sees. Even children are targeted to present parents on Veterans Day bandwagon with their wish list of "stuff."
It's enough to make you scream in disgust. Or, if you're a retailer, squeal in delight of the dollars walking in your door. All of the ads and marketing competing for my attention made me wonder. What is this day of honoring Vets really all about? Do we really celebrate the sacrifices and accomplishments of veterans or salivate at the opportunity to increase a bottom line?
Don't get me wrong, I love a discount as much as the next stay-at-home mama. I like Groupons and coupons too. But the focus of the day seems to be quite heavy on the sales and deals, rather than the admiration of millions of men and women who have dutifully served our country.
However, I recall one eye-opening and humbling visit to a very unique organization on the island of Hawaii at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham. A unit that is united for one purpose only. At the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), there is only one mission: to account for and bring home American veterans lost during U.S. conflicts.
Before my husband's command assignment at our new base two years ago, we were in a training course along with other commanders and spouses. While at the course, myself and the other spouses had opportunity to visit the JPAC. We were briefed on their process and their mission. They described how each person assigned there was fully committed to doing their part to honor the fallen veterans of past wars and conflicts by meticulously researching, following up, and locating places and people who might have a clue to where a particular veteran may be. JPAC told us the conflicts they research can date as far back as the Civil War. Sometimes they actually get a good lead that takes them all the way to men and women lost 20 years ago in combat. Many times, though, there are dead ends and incompletes. But that never deters them from trying and persisting.
It doesn't matter that it's Veteran's Day. It doesn't matter that it's Christmas. And it doesn't even matter if the family members have moved on and resigned themselves to memories. The search, the ceremony and the honor do not stop, not until everyone comes home. That's the solemn promise to families and to America herself, and it speaks of the commitment and honor JPAC extends to our mission of freedom. As a veteran, I was humbled to know that even if we forget, if we get distracted with sales, promotions, or "stuff", there is someone out there who truly honors sacrifice.
On any day, but especially Veteran's Day, if you get caught up in the commercial melee of the culture, take a time out. Call a veteran. Thank them with sincerity. Visit a veteran and listen to their stories. Honor them in your own way and celebrate the sacrifice that allows us the freedoms we so enjoy everyday. And if you still need to shop? Patronize a veteran-owned business. Now that takes care of celebration and the bottom line.
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