Each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, many of us take time to recognize the sacrifices of those men and women who have served in uniform.
But around the country, these solemn holidays often end up meaning little more than a chance to buy things on sale.
Yesterday I did an event with Jill Biden for a non-partisan, non-profit group called Beyond Tribute that's launching a campaign this Memorial Day to convince stores to donate a portion of their holiday promotion proceeds to medical treatment and family support for veterans. By Veterans Day, we hope to be able to raise significant money for veterans in need from the very businesses that usually capitalize on these solemn holidays.
We're getting businesses to sign on by encouraging everday Americans like you to pledge to shop at Beyond Tribute business partners and show that you're committed to truly honoring, and actually helping, former service members.
When I was on active duty as a four-star general in the U.S. Army, the soldiers I commanded were serving me, and they were serving the President.
But above all, they were serving America — all of us.
So we all owe them a debt of gratitude, especially the troops who have sacrificed their health and well-being in the line of duty.
By signing the pledge to shop at Beyond Tribute businesses during the veterans national holidays, you're doing more than making your own personal commitment to help. You're also showing businesses that their customers will reward them if they do the right thing.
Anyone who has served, or has a loved one who's served, knows how important this help is.
That's why people like Walter Cronkite, philanthropist Jerome Kohlberg, and Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City's Samantha) have joined Beyond Tribute with me and pledged to do their shopping at participating businesses, too.
The troops we honor are real people, many of whom have very real injuries. They and their families need our help to get back on their feet. This is something we can all do that will really help them.
Please join us in signing the pledge to do your shopping on veterans national holidays at Beyond Tribute businesses.
Wesley K. Clark, a retired Army general and former supreme allied commander of NATO, is a senior fellow at the Burkle Center for International Relations at the University of California at Los Angeles.